You can’t please everyone. No matter your profession or career, if you have clients, customers, or patients, one of them at some point is going to be unhappy with you and your services. Whether their displeasure is justified or not, whether or not you’ve done everything right and are without fault for anything, whether they are straight-up making up facts and allegations, that disgruntled person can become a major thorn in your side.
If they file a complaint with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR), you will have to deal with it. At minimum, it will make you angry, frustrated, or indignant and you will need to spend your valuable time responding to the claims against you. If you fail to address the complaint effectively or if the Department finds merit in the allegations, the potential damage to your reputation and risk to your livelihood become exponentially greater.
In a perfect world, your professionalism, ethics, and competence would prevent any license complaints against you. But as we see every day, our world is anything but perfect. That said, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of complaints and position yourself for a positive outcome if a complaint is filed.
For doctors, accountants, appraisers, hairstylists, or any of the scores of professions regulated by IDFPR, here are five tips for avoiding professional license complaints:
- Know your professional obligations. Specific laws, rules, and regulations govern your profession. Baseline standards of care, continuing education requirements, and other obligations must be complied with for you to stay on the right side of regulators and These requirements are numerous and can change without notice. Make sure that you keep up with your obligations and audit yourself every year to confirm that you are in compliance.
- Educate your staff. If you employ others in your practice or profession, you are responsible for everything they do in the course of their employment. Their misconduct, malfeasance, or negligence can directly threaten your license. You need to supervise, train, and educate your staff to ensure that they understand their professional obligations and are following all applicable rules. Put in place policies and protocols that can minimize deviations and quickly correct them if they occur.
- To sue or not to sue? You have every right to get paid for services you provide, and when a client or customer skips out on a bill, you have every right to pursue them in a collection lawsuit. While some folks may fail to pay because they are simply avoiding their obligations, others may claim that the services you provided were substandard, improper, or not what you promised. If that’s the case, you’ll want to try to resolve these disputes before filing suit. Even if you can’t do so, you’ll be well-positioned if they respond with a license complaint, as sued clients often do.
- Document everything. Whether in a civil lawsuit or an IDFPR disciplinary proceeding, the more documentation and evidence you have to support your position, the better your chances of a positive outcome. Be sure to document any problems that occur and the steps that you took to correct them. If any staff was involved, have them document their version of events as well.
- Communicate. What we have here with so many professional license complaints is a failure to communicate. Inadequate client communication can lead to misunderstandings or feelings of neglect and insufficient care, increasing client dissatisfaction and the likelihood of claims. Be accessible and responsive, and make sure your staff is too.
As noted, you will likely face a professional license complaint at some point in your career, and when you do so, the most important tip is to contact an experienced Chicago professional license defense attorney as soon as possible. Seasoned and knowledgeable counsel can be the key to resolving IDFPR matters early and cost-effectively so you can focus on your career instead of complaints.
Louis Fine: Chicago Professional License Defense Attorney
The moment IDFPR contacts you or you learn that you are under investigation is the moment that you should contact me. Please give me a call at (312) 236-2433 or fill out my online form to arrange for your free initial consultation. I look forward to meeting with you.