How Employment Issues Can Affect Your Professional License
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford | November 30, 2022
Many licensed professionals are responsible not only for themselves but also for the people that work in their practice. Depending on the size of your practice, employment issues may seem unavoidable. And while most employment issues can be resolved without any impact on your license, certain issues, particularly when unaddressed, can lead to disciplinary action from the licensing board. If you are facing a troubling employment issue and you are worried about how it may impact your license, the best thing to do is contact a professional license defense lawyer who also understands employment law.
Most licensing boards will take action based on allegations of discriminatory behavior or employment practices. While blatant or overt discrimination may seem obviously problematic from the standpoint of your licensing board, you should remember that your practice can face legal action as a result of policies or actions that have an unintentional but disparate impact on your employees who belong to a particular protected class. Allegations concerning the following actions or policies could lead to an investigation from your licensing board:
- Discriminatory hiring, promotion, or termination policies
- Discriminatory dress codes
- Discriminatory leave policies
Professionals need to remember that discrimination is not limited to race or gender – it is against the law to discriminate against employees on a variety of bases including age, religion, or familial status. Licensed professionals who are found to have acted in a discriminatory manner or have promoted discriminatory practices could be subject to discipline from their licensing board.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
This may seem obvious, but allegations that you offered some employment-related benefit in exchange for sexual favors could easily trigger an investigation from the licensing board. In fact, it is best that you maintain a strictly professional relationship with your coworkers and colleagues in order to avoid any sort of sexual harassment claims.
Hostile Work Environment
Another situation that could lead to disciplinary action is creating a hostile work environment or allowing one to exist. A hostile work environment is one where an employee or employees are subjected to repeated and pervasive treatment that is hostile, demeaning, or intimidating. A hostile work environment is often associated with sexual harassment but can be based on someone’s age, race, ethnicity, or religion.
It should be emphasized that a single comment or gesture does not necessarily give rise to a hostile work environment. Instead, a hostile work environment is caused by repeated, pervasive conduct such as the following:
- Repeated unwelcome comments
- Inappropriate jokes
- Unwelcome physical contact
- Displaying offensive cartoons, signs, or objects
Harassment is against the law and can lead to legal exposure. A hostile work environment claim can lead to disciplinary action if it is alleged that you were directly involved or were aware of it and neglected to take action. If you have been implicated in a hostile work environment claim, you should contact a professional license defense attorney to discuss whether your license may be at risk.
What You Can Do to Avoid Disciplinary Action
Obviously, you should not engage in any sort of harassment or discriminatory behavior. Unfortunately, however, you may face a disciplinary investigation based on allegations alone. Here are some proactive steps you can take to avoid disciplinary action from your licensing board:
- Keep your ears open. Many of the people who pursue discrimination or harassment claims will say that their employer was aware of the situation and refused to take action. If you hear about discriminatory or harassing behavior, do not dismiss it as an idle rumor. Take anything you hear about such conduct very seriously.
- Take action. If you are responsible for the management of your practice, you need to investigate any such claims and determine what action needs to be taken. An experienced employment lawyer can guide you through the process if you are unsure as to how to proceed.
- Create and implement anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies. You want to have policies in place that document the steps your practice takes in addressing discrimination and harassment issues. Make sure your employees understand how these policies work and what they can do when they are the victim of or a witness to discriminatory behavior or harassment.
If you are not in a management or executive role, you should report any discrimination or harassment to your superiors. Lastly, you can volunteer to help develop and implement any policies that are needed.
Contact Professional License Defense Lawyer J.W. Stafford and His Team For Immediate Assistance
If you have been implicated in an employment issue that could threaten your license, professional license defense lawyer J.W. Stafford can help you navigate the situation. The sooner you contact us the sooner we can help – call us today at 410-514-6099 to schedule a consultation.