If you are a licensed professional in South Carolina and have been contacted by a South Carolina Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation (LLR) investigator, it means that a complaint was made against you. It also means that the LRR believes it warrants further inquiry.
You need to face this issue, but it is crucial that you consult an attorney before responding to any questions. You should not ignore an LRR investigation. Instead, seek legal help immediately. An attorney can help you understand your rights and can help protect your career and reputation.
No professional wants to be contacted by an LLR investigator. As a licensed professional who has dedicated years to your career, you have likely made many sacrifices and difficult decisions. The thought of losing your license is undoubtedly devastating. It is something that you will strongly fight to keep. The process of license defense is confusing and can be lengthy.
Whether you are fighting an initial complaint, or appealing an LLR Board decision, it is important to understand the process and your rights.
What Can I Expect Now That I Have Been Contacted by an LLR Investigator in South Carolina?
There are several ways that you may encounter the scrutiny of the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. Anyone can file a complaint against you, including clients, former employees, competitors, or an employer. They may base the complaint on either procedural or ethical grounds. You may also be investigated if you were subject to a criminal proceeding. They may still choose to investigate you even if you were not guilty of the crime.
If a South Carolina LLR investigator contacts you, it is a serious matter. This means that the LLR has found enough evidence of wrongdoing to warrant further inquiry into the alleged misconduct. The Office of Investigations and Enforcement (OIE) will take the case, and they will appoint an investigator. Each year, approximately 2 percent of cases are investigated by OIE.
The LLR investigator’s job is to find out the facts. The LLR investigator may interview witnesses, request documents, and may even issue subpoenas. They will likely want to speak to you and will set up a time for an interview. Further, they may request that you submit a written statement detailing your account of the incident that led to the complaint.
It is crucial to understand precisely what the complaint alleges before you speak to an investigator or submit a statement. You need to respond to their requests immediately, but you have the right to consult an attorney first. You also have the right to have an attorney present when you answer any questions.
What Happens After the LLR investigator Finishes Their Inquiry?
An investigation takes 60-180 days to conclude. When the LLR investigator has finished, they will submit a summary report. This report details the allegations, relevant statutes or regulations, and evidence collected. The chief investigator will complete the summary report and submit it to the Investigative Review Committee (IRC). The IRC will review the material presented and will determine whether any disciplinary action should be taken.
The IRC will present their recommendation to the LLR board. The board can choose to accept or disregard the IRC’s recommendation. The board will then select a course of action, which may include:
- Dismissal of the case – This is the best possible outcome. They will determine that no statutory violation occurred and will close the case.
- A private letter of caution – The board issues a non-disciplinary letter of caution stating that no statutory violation exists. Once this happens, the matter will be closed. The board will also caution the subject to be mindful of their behavior and industry regulations.
- Authorization for a formal complaint – The board has found a statutory violation. The Office of the General Counsel will prepare a formal complaint detailing the charges and alleged statutory violations. If the office issues a formal complaint, the IRC often outlines resolution standards and proposed sanctions. The professional will have the option to sign a consent agreement. This agreement details the facts, the statutory violations, and the sanctions as agreed to by the professional and the state. The consent agreement is then given to the board for approval. The professional may also choose to refrain from signing the consent agreement and may request a full hearing before the board.
The LLR investigators’ findings and their recommendations to the board will determine the next course of action in your case. The matter could be resolved quickly and favorably or may be drawn out. In either case, even an allegation can do damage to your reputation and career. Do not let an LLR investigation ruin what you have worked so hard to build. If you have been contacted by an LLR investigator, seek legal help immediately.
Contact the Columbia and Lexington Professional License Defense Attorneys at The Jeffcoat Firm
The South Carolina license defense attorneys at The Jeffcoat Firm have helped professionals in Columbia, Lexington, and surrounding areas defend themselves against damaging complaints for decades. If you are contacted by an LLR investigator, you need to know your rights, and have someone who is going to fight for you.
When fighting for our clients, we adhere to our core values of diligence, dedication, and determination. We have experience defending people against the initial claims as well as the appeals process. So, whether you have been contacted for the first time and need immediate counsel, or if there has been a determination made and you need to appeal it, we are here to help you. Contact Jeffcoat Law Firm by phone or online now for a free consultation.
Mr. Jeffcoat, a native of the Columbia area, founded the law firm in 1999. Mr. Jeffcoat got his undergraduate degree at Wofford College in 1994, majoring in Political Economy and Philosophy, and then went to the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he received his J.D. in 1997. After working in two law firms following his graduation from law school, Jeffcoat ventured out on his own to launch The Jeffcoat Firm in March of 1999.