The story is a familiar one in our office.  A health care professional comes into the office, furious at their former employer.  The employer called the professional into the hospital personnel office, confronted them with an allegation, and then asks for their resignation.  To give the professional – a registered nurse, physician, respiratory therapist, or other – an extra incentive, the assurance is made: “If you just resign, we won’t report you to the board.”

Months pass.  Perhaps a year or two passes.  Then a letter comes from the board.  Your employer has reported you after all, and an investigation is open.  That assurance amounted to nothing.  Those dirty, rotten …. they lied to me.  Surely the board doesn’t believe them.  They just wanted to get rid of me.

You Can’t Force Your Former Employer to be Silent

Your former employer has a right to report perceived misconduct to the licensing board.  California law provides immunity to persons and entities that make complaints to California licensing boards.  The Civil Code extends legal immunity, and anti-SLAPP provisions in the law may shut down a lawsuit intended to silence a business or individual filing a complaint.  Although the law does not provide unlimited protection, in most scenarios it is extremely unlikely a former employer can be held responsible for a complaint under the libel and slander laws.  Otherwise, no one would ever make a complaint to a licensing board.

The Boards and Even Courts Usually Don’t Care Why a Complaint Was Made

A complaint to a licensing board can be made by a jealous co-worker, a boss who wanted to get rid of you, or even an enemy with an ax to grind.  The board doesn’t care.  If the complaint checks out, it becomes the board’s case, and motivation for making the complaint can become irrelevant.  Dwelling on the bad intent that motivated the original complaint is not a winning defense strategy.

Move Past Bad Blood to be Smart about the Problem 

Anger over the original malicious intent behind a Board complaint makes for a bad case in court.  If behind the complaint there is a serious error, unprofessional conduct or some other actionable cause, the professional license defense attorney must focus on either disproving the allegations or addressing board concerns to avoid or reduce board sanctions.  The bottom line is that complaining about your deceitful employer won’t help in a board discipline hearing.

Ray & Bishop, PLC, can provide effective strategies for dealing with an investigation or disciplinary case by a California healthcare licensing board.  Call us for assistance with your legal problem.