Social Worker Disciplinary Actions and Hearing Procedures
The law regarding disciplinary actions for social workers in Louisiana is located at La. R.S. 37:2717. The statute is part of the Louisiana Social Work Practice Act and states in pertinent part:
Reasons for Disciplinary Action
The Louisiana Board of Social Work Examiners shall have the power to deny, revoke, or suspend any license, certificate, or registration issued by the board for any of the following causes:
(1) Conviction of a felony.
(2) Substance abuse.
(3) Obtaining or attempting to obtain a license, certificate, or registration by fraud or deception.
(4) Willfully or repeatedly violating the Louisiana Social Work Practice Act.
(5) Violating any Social Board order.
(6) Being adjudged a mental incompetent.
(7) Practicing in a manner detrimental or potentially detrimental to the client by act or omission, which act or omission is either the result of deliberate or intentional conduct or negligent conduct.
(8) Failure to report to the board knowledge of a violation or infraction of the social work practice act, rules and regulations promulgated by the board or ethical standards, or both.
(9) Providing false testimony to the board or providing false sworn information to the board.
(10) Deceiving or defrauding the public or making, submitting, or causing to be submitted any false or deceptive claims, reports, charges, assessments, or opinions regarding any client or service provided to any client, insurance company, health care provider, third-party payor, company, individual, or any governmental agency for the purpose of obtaining payment or anything of economic value.
(11) Unprofessional or unethical conduct as defined in the rules and regulations adopted by the board.
(12) Conduct which demonstrates the social worker has failed to maintain the qualification of good moral character.
Forms of Discipline
When the board decides to discipline an individual the board may:
(1) Refuse to issue or renew a license or registration.
(2) Issue a public or private letter of reprimand or concern.
(3) Require restitution to a client or restitution of the board’s costs and expenses in connection with the enforcement of this Chapter, or both.
(4) Impose probationary conditions.
(5) Impose a fine for each violation not to exceed one thousand dollars.
(6) Suspend or revoke a license certificate, or registration including the summary suspension of said license, certificate, or registration when the board determines that public health, safety, or welfare imperatively requires emergency action.
(7) Restrict a license, certificate, or registration by limiting or reducing the scope of practice.
(8) Otherwise discipline the holder of a license, certificate, or registration upon proof of violation of any provisions of this Chapter, or the rules and regulations promulgated by the board, or both.
Disciplinary Proceedings Costs
Proceedings for disciplinary action or for the denial or withholding of a license under the authority of law shall be conducted in compliance with the board’s rules, regulations, and procedures and in compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act. The board may require an individual against whom disciplinary action has been taken by the board to pay the reasonable costs incurred by the board for the hearing or proceedings, including its legal fees, stenographer, investigator, or witness fees, and any such costs and fees incurred by the board on any judicial review or appeal. These costs and fees shall be paid no later than 30 days after the decision of the board becomes final. No license, certificate, or registration shall be issued, reinstated, or renewed until such costs have been paid.
Due Process Rights
No license, certificate, or registration shall be suspended or revoked until a hearing is held before the board, after notice of at least 30 days to the social worker. The notice shall be served by registered mail, return receipt requested, shall state the date, time, and place of the hearing, and shall set forth the ground or grounds of the charges against the social worker. The social worker has a right to present his own defense either in proper person or by counsel, to produce testimony and to testify in his own behalf. A record of the hearing shall be taken and preserved. The record shall contain the notice, documents, and data filed in the proceedings; all statements of the board pertinent thereto; the testimony, exhibits, and the written findings of fact and orders of the board. The state of Louisiana shall be a party to the prosecution of all such actions and hearings before the board pertaining to the suspension or revocation of a license, certificate, or registration; and the attorney general shall appear in behalf of the state. The hearing may be adjourned from time to time. If the social worker pleads guilty, or if upon hearing the charges the majority of the board finds them true, the board may enter an order suspending or revoking the license, certificate, or registration or imposing probationary conditions.
Right to an Appeal
Any individual subject to disciplinary action who feels aggrieved by the decision of the board may file a petition for judicial review in the Nineteenth Judicial District Court within 30 days after receiving the board’s decision.
If you are a Social Worker in Louisiana and the board has contacted you about a disciplinary investigation, you should seek counsel immediately. Social worker license defense attorney Elizabeth B. Carpenter has the necessary experience to fight for your livelihood. She considers herself a mental health provider advocate. Please call her for a consultation today. 504-599-5955