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Complaints

Chapter 3: Individual Proceedings

675:3-1-1. Purpose

The purpose of this Chapter is to set forth the procedures of the Board used in the investigations of and hearings held for complaints and for individual proceedings.

[Source: Added at 21 Ok Reg, eff 11-14-03 (emergency); Added at 21 Ok Reg, eff 7-1-04]

675:3-1-2. Definitions

The following words and terms, when used in this Chapter, shall have the following meaning, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

  • “Act” means the Social Worker’s Licensing Act, 59 O.S., §§ 1250, et seq., as amended.
  • “APA” means Article I and/or Article II of the Administrative Procedures Act, 75 O.S.§ 250, et seq.
  • “Board” means the Oklahoma State Board of Licensed Social Workers.
  • “Citizen complaint” means a written statement of alleged violation of the Act by a person licensed or certified by the Board and submitted to the Board office by any member of the public.
  • “Complaint Committee” means a committee made up of the Board Chair or his or her designee, former or current Board(s) member appointed by the Chair and the Attorney General Liaison to the Board.
  • “Formal complaint” means a written statement of alleged violation of the Act by a person licensed or certified by the Board and which is filed by the Board’s attorney along with a Notice of Hearing scheduling an individual proceeding before the Board.
  • “Hearing” means the mechanism employed by the Board to provide Due Process to a respondent in an individual proceeding.
  • “Individual proceeding” means the formal process by which the Board takes administrative action against a person licensed or certified by the Board in accordance with the Act and the APA.
  • “Respondent” means the person against whom an individual proceeding is initiated.
  • “Staff” means the personnel of the Board, through employment or contract.

[Source: Added at 21 Ok Reg, eff 11-14-03 (emergency); Added at 21 Ok Reg, eff 7-1-04]

675:3-1-3. Complaint procedure

  • Receiving complaints. The Board shall receive complaints against licensees through the mail or in person at the Board office. Only written complaints shall be accepted for consideration, unless extenuating circumstances exist. The written complaint may be anonymous as long as it contains detailed information sufficient to independently verify the allegations made. Upon receipt of the complaint, the Board staff shall:
    • Stamp all pages with a Board stamp which indicates the date of receipt,
    • Review the citizen complaint to determine if the person against whom the complaint is made is a current licensee,
    • Generate a letter to the complainant indicating receipt and review of the complaint by the Board officials (if applicable),
    • Log the citizen complaint by assigning a number consisting of the year and sequence number in which it was received, record the date received, name of complainant (if provided), and the name and license number of the licensee,
    • Place the citizen complaint in a pending file,
    • Notify members of the Complaint Committee of receipt of a citizen complaint by providing a copy to each member.
  • Reviewing complaints. Upon notification that a complaint has been received, the Complaint Committee shall review the contents to determine whether or not the allegation constitutes a possible violation of the Code of Professional Conduct. If the allegation does not indicate a possible violation of this code, the Complaint Committee shall instruct the Board staff to generate a letter to the complainant thanking them for their concern and advising them that the complaint does not fall within the purview of the Board. If the allegation does indicate a possible violation of this code, the Complaint Committee shall make the following determination:
    • The alleged violation appears to be one which would not, if found to be valid, result in a denial, revocation or suspension of a license, but one which does indicate the need for Board review and possible informal action.
    • The alleged violation appears to be one which could, if found to be valid, result in a denial, revocation or suspension of a license.
  • Allegations, if substantiated, not appearing to result in a denial, revocation or suspension of a license. If an alleged violation appears to be one which would not result in a denial of renewal, revocation or suspension of a license, the chair or chair’s designee shall proceed with addressing the allegation by reviewing the complaint with the Attorney General liaison for the Board. Upon the consent of the chair or chair’s designee and the advice of the Attorney General liaison the chair or chair’s designee shall proceed by:
    • Notification of the licensee by certified mail that a citizen complaint has been received, outlining the nature of the complaint.
    • Forwarding to the licensee a copy of the informal process for addressing citizen complaints, which requires:
      • A prompt letter to the Board from the licensee responding to the merits of the complaint;
      • An informal interview with the Board to fully explore the issues involved in the complaint;
      • An agreement by the Board and the licensee on the merits of the complaint;
      • A proposed Consent Decree for disciplinary action for the licensee, approved by the Board and signed by the licensee and the chair or chair’s designee, which may include, but is not limited to, one or more of the following:
        • A letter of education instructing the licensee to correct the aspect of practice in question;
        • A tutorial assigned to the licensee to remedy the practice in question, under the supervision of a Board Approved Supervisor assigned by the Board, with the wishes and needs of the licensee taken into consideration;
        • A letter of censure reprimanding the licensee for the practice in question;
      • A review of the course of action in a specified time, not longer than six months, to determine whether or not remediation has taken place;
      • A letter to the licensee indicating that the informal process has ended.
      • Referral to the formal investigation process when:
        • The licensee fails to respond to the certified letter from the Board;
        • The informal process reveals new or expanded allegations that indicate the possibility of a denial, revocation or suspension of a license;
        • The licensee fails to meet the requirements of Consent Decree without good cause.
      • A Consent Decree entered into pursuant to the subsection that is agreed to by the Board and the licensee shall not be considered a disciplinary action and will not appear on the Board’s website or be reported to a national databank.
         
  • Allegations, if substantiated, appearing to result in a denial, revocation or suspension of a license. If an alleged violation appears to be one which would result in a denial of renewal, revocation or suspension of a license, the Complaint Committee shall proceed with addressing the complaint by the process detailed below based upon agreement of a majority of its members:
    • Contacting an investigator designated by the Board as qualified to address the nature of the complaint.
    • Providing the designated investigator with names and addresses of the complainant, if available, and the licensee.
    • Issuing a letter of intent that specifies:
      • The intended parameters of the investigation;
      • The individuals to be interviewed;
      • The contract fee and travel reimbursement, as allowed by statute;
      • The time frame for completing the investigation.
    • Indicating whether or not the licensee should be interviewed by the contract investigator, in reference to:
      • Advice by the Attorney General liaison not to do so in order to reserve the interview with the licensee in a setting under oath;
      • The possibility of a criminal investigation being conducted concurrently or subsequently to the Board investigation.
    • Submitting the investigative report to the Complaint Committee for review and recommendation to the Board concerning proposed action to be taken concerning the complaint.
    • Placing the complaint on the agenda for the next Board meeting for report on the status of the complaint and possible action by the Board. Possible actions by the Board would include:
      • A dismissal of the complaint due to lack of evidence of a code violation;
      • A referral to the informal process due to a finding that the results of the investigation reveal code violations, but not ones that would result in the need for denial, revocation or suspension;
      • A decision to hold a hearing as provided for in Section 675:3-1-4 of this Chapter;
      • A Consent Decree that is agreed to by the Board and the licensee.
        • A Consent Decree that is entered into pursuant to this subsection shall be considered a disciplinary action and shall appear on the Board’s website and shall be reported to the appropriate national databank(s).
        • A Consent Decree pursuant to this subsection may be recommended to the Board as a possible action of the Board at any stage in the complaint process detailed in this subsection.

[Source: Added at 21 Ok Reg, eff 11-14-03 (emergency); Added at 21 Ok Reg, eff 7-1-04; Added at 29 OK Reg, eff 5-30-12]

675:3-1-3.1 Cooperation with investigations

Licensees shall cooperate when Board staff, complaint committee members, and/or investigators make inquiries concerning a complaint made against a licensee. Failure of a licensee to cooperate is a code violation.

[Source: Adde at 29 OK Reg, eff 5-30-12]

675:3-1-4. Procedures for denials, revocations, suspensions

  • When a hearing is required. The Board shall hold a hearing when it considers that there is cause to deny a renewal of a license or, revoke or suspend any license (or specialty certification) issued by the Board or applied for in accordance with the Social Worker’s Licensing Act or otherwise to discipline a licensee. The hearing will determine whether or not the person:
    • Has been convicted of a felony and, after investigation the Board finds that he or she has not been sufficiently rehabilitated to meet the public trust;
    • Has been found guilty of fraud or deceit in connection with services rendered or in establishing needed qualifications under this act;
    • Has knowingly aided or abetted a person, not licensed under these provisions, in representing himself or herself as licensed in this state;
    • Is guilty of unprofessional conduct as defined by rules established by the Board;
    • Is guilty of negligence or wrongful actions in the performance of his or her duties as a social worker;
    • Is unable to function because of addiction to alcohol, drugs or other chemicals;
    • Is unable to function because of physical or mental illness;
    • Has disclosed confidential information without proper authority;
    • Has violated the security of any licensure examination materials;
    • Has been the subject of the revocation, suspension, surrender or other disciplinary sanction of a license in this state that is similar or related to a social worker license or of other adverse action related to a similar or related license in this state including the failure to report such adverse action to the Board within ten (10) business days of the issuance of a final order.
    • Has been the subject of the revocation, suspension, surrender or other disciplinary sanction of a social worker or related license or of other adverse action related to a social worker or related license in another jurisdiction or country including the failure to report such adverse action to the Board; or
    • Has been adjudicated by a court of competent jurisdiction, within or without this state, as incapacitated, mentally incompetent, chemically dependent, mentally ill and dangerous to the public or a psychopathic personality.
  • Hearing procedures. Hearing procedures to be followed shall be in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, 75 O.S., §§309-323.

[Source: Added at 21 Ok Reg, eff 11-14-03 (emergency); Added at 21 Ok Reg, eff 7-1-04; Added at 29 OK Reg, eff 5-30-12]

Last Modified on Jan 24, 2024
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