Responding to DPOR Complaints in Virginia

March 19, 2020

The fellow Virginia professionals at McClanahan Powers, PLLC understand the time, effort, and finances necessary to obtain and maintain a professional license in the Commonwealth. Many young professionals still bear the debt incurred to achieve a professional license, and the livelihood of most professionally licensed Virginians is linked to valid licensure. Loss or suspension of a professional license may mean loss of your primary income and financial security. As a result, receiving a notice of complaint and demand for response from the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, ignoring or failing to properly respond to even a frivolous DPOR complaint can result in serious professional and personal consequences.

Experienced and Understanding DPOR Complaint Lawyers in Virginia

DPOR officials know that many consumer complaints are inaccurate, vindictive, or frivolous, but they must be investigated nonetheless. This accountability process improves the overall value of your professional license even though it doesn’t feel like it during the complaint process. Don’t let a single DPOR complaint define your month, year, or career. Contact the experienced DPOR complaint defense attorneys at McClanahan Powers, PLLC, by calling (703) 520-1326 or contacting them online to bulletproof your response.

Overview of DPOR Authority and Complaint Process

The DPOR’s authority is relatively narrow. Its Regulator Program and Compliance section only reviews written complaints filed within three years of an act, omission, or occurrence that allegedly violated a statute or professional regulation. The DPOR only reviews complaints if the professional license at issue falls under its authority, including but not limited to:

  • Architects and Engineers
  • Branch Pilots
  • Real Estate and Home Inspectors
  • Barbers and Cosmetologists
  • Contractors
  • Tradesman, Waste Management, and Waterworks Operators
  • Hearing and Optical Specialists
  • Geologists
  • Martial Artists

Complains against attorneys, medical professionals, government officials, or teachers must be filed with their independent regulatory authorities.

Anyone may file a DPOR complaint, and the DPOR reviews complaints to determine whether it falls under its authority and the facts alleged would, if true, amount to a violation of an applicable law or regulation. Complaints falling outside DPOR jurisdiction, filed after three years, or that fail to make a valid case will be dismissed without requiring a response. Those passing initial review are sent to the licensee for a response, and the agency will conduct an investigation. If the DPOR finds probable cause that a legal violation occurred, it has authority to:

  • Suspend a professional license for a period of time
  • Revoke the license
  • Refuse to renew the license
  • Refuse to grant a new license after revocation
  • Impose an administrative fine
  • Require remedial education such as attendance at additional CLEs or training

The DPOR cannot order a business to refund money, correct deficiencies, or remedy the issue actually complained of. That said, voluntarily so may result in withdrawal of a complaint or leniency if discipline is required, but the only authority the DPOR has is over your professional license. It may refer potentially criminal matters to a local prosecutor, but all other remedies must be obtained through a court of law.

Preparing a Strong Response to a Virginia DPOR Complaint

The DPOR typically requests the licensee file a written response to a complaint within a few weeks. This deadline can be extended via a written request if time is needed to gather evidence or prepare a response. Additional time is often granted to retain an experienced professional licensure protection attorney to investigate, prepare, and/or review your response. A comprehensive response to a consumer complaint to the DPOR should include the following:

  • A recitation of your version of the facts with evidence and/or affidavits (sworn, notarized statements) supporting your version of events
  • If applicable, why the DPOR lacks jurisdiction and authority to investigate the complaint
  • Any action you took subsequent to the initial complaint
  • Witness statements, photos, videos, emails, and any documentary evidence tending to support your version of events
  • A legal argument explaining why the facts do not support discipline under the applicable regulations and statutes governing your professional license
  • An alternative legal argument that even if the facts indicate a statutory violation, there is no probable cause to support discipline without additional supporting evidence and you submitted evidence countering that statement
  • A concluding statement summarizing your arguments and requesting the DPOR dismiss the complaint without further action

Be aware that if the complaint results in a related lawsuit, your DPOR response is discoverable and generally admissible during litigation. This includes admitting the statements you made and any evidence submitted with the response. Respondents must carefully consider what they admit to and include in their DPOR responses to avoid future liability. For example, if a respondent admits he was “wrong” and is “sorry,” this may prove civil liability or guilt in Virginia courts. Always speak with an experienced Virginia business liability lawyer before drafting and/or submitting your response to a DPOR complaint.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Case Evaluation with a Virginia DPOR Compliant Defense Lawyer

Whether you just received a DPOR complaint, have questions concerning a claim, or wish to appeal an adverse DPOR ruling, the experienced professional license defense lawyers at McClanahan Powers, PLLC, will protect your rights. Do not ignore a DPOR complaint even if you believe it’s frivolous. Complaints without legal merit are typically dismissed before being served on the respondent, which means complaints received by the license holder are under investigation. Professional licensees must submit evidence to counter the complainant’s claims and defeat probable cause without opening themselves and their businesses up for future liability.

Let McClanahan Powers’ top-rated professional license defense and appeals lawyers bulletproof your DPOR defense. Contact us today to schedule your confidential Virginia DPOR complaint review by calling (703) 520-1326 or through our online contact form.