Professional Engineers Of North Carolina

SPR 2014

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21 Spring 2014 the Professional Engineer Te large majority of licensees will not have to deal with a complaint brought against him or her to the board. For those who do, however, it is best to treat the complaint very seriously. average of 25 to 50 complaints are fled against individual professional engineers in a given year. In recent years, this number has been decreasing. Licensees also may be disciplined if convicted of a felony or any crime involving moral turpitude. Moral turpitude crimes are typically those involving dishonesty, but could include sex ofenses. Disci- plinary action also is possible when: a court declares a licensee insane or incompetent; or a licensee is found to be professionally incompetent by the board. Te most common reasons that professional engineers are disciplined are: (1) producing defcient or substandard work; (2) having been disciplined in another jurisdiction; (3) failing to comply with continuing professional competency requirements; (4) practicing prior to licensure, on an expired certifcate or while suspended; (5) failing to exercise direct supervisory control or responsible charge; (6) failing to properly certify documents or include address; (7) practicing outside area of competence; (8) failing to be objective and truthful; (9) repre- senting themselves as being an architect or capable of providing architectural services; and (10) convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude. Tere are four phases to the disciplinary process. Tey are: (1) review committee; (2) settlement conference; (3) contested case hearing; and (4) judicial appeal. Preliminary review occurs after the board receives a properly fled complaint. If the board's executive director determines the evidence corrobo- rates the complaint, the licensee is notifed in writing of the charges. Typically, the executive director will direct that a feld investigation be performed. Te investigator will interview the person fling the complaint and the licensee. At this point the licensee should consider retaining an attorney to correspond with the investigator. Anything the licensee says to the investigator will become part of the investiga- tion. Te attorney can establish a dialogue with the investigator resulting in information that could potentially infuence the decision of discipline against the licensee. Te licensee is requested to respond to the written charges and show compliance with all requirements for retention of his or her license. If the licensee fails to respond he or she may be subject to an additional charge of failure to cooperate with the investigation, which is itself a violation of the rules. At this stage of the case, the investigation by the board is confdential. Nevertheless, the licensee should try and obtain all the evidence possible from the board, preferably before responding to the board or meeting with the investigator. For example, the licensee may be able to request copies of drawings from the investigator during the investigation. Te complaint and the identity of the party bringing the complaint, however, will remain confdential until the investigation is complete. After the executive director obtains preliminary evidence, the matter is referred to the board's review committee, which is comprised of the executive director, the legal counsel for the board and one member of the board who is a PE. After the review committee reviews the evidence it makes a recommendation to the board that: (1) the com- plaint be dismissed; (2) when the licensee admits guilt, the board accepts the admission of guilt and orders the licensee to comply with the board rules and statutes in the future, with no further action taken; (3) the complaint be presented to the board for a contested case hearing; or (4) the board gives notice of a contemplated action to the licensee. Te contemplated actions can include: (1) require re-examination for licensing; (2) withhold the renewal of a license; (3) suspend a license; (4) revoke a license; (5) impose a civil penalty not to exceed $5,000; and/or (6) issue a reprimand. Te decision of the board on the recommen- dations of the review committee is given to the licensee in writing. When the board provides notice of a contemplated action the licensee must, within 20 days of receiving the notice, request in writing a settlement conference or contested case hearing, otherwise the board will take the contemplated action. Te settlement conference also may be requested when the board issues a notice of citation for contested case hearing. Legal_Winter14.indd 21 3/27/14 11:35 AM

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