Professional Disciplinary Hearings Lawyer in Vancouver, BC
Professionals are held to high standards in British Columbia and sometimes, they make decisions that are challenged by the governing bodies.
The challenge could originate from a complaint by a member of the public, a colleague, or a professional from a competing organization. Sometimes, it’s a simple misunderstanding and other times, much more serious.
The governing bodies for professions that affect the public good — like medical, financial, legal, and educational professions — take any complaint against a member professional seriously and must investigate.
This often leads to a professional disciplinary hearing, which can be an intimidating and stressful experience. Most professionals have worked very hard to get where they are and cannot afford to risk a stain on their reputation or, worse, the loss of their professional license.
With the help of a professional disciplinary hearing lawyer from Taylor Janis LLP in British Columbia, you can protect your professional standing.
We will investigate what happened thoroughly, provide professional guidance, and help you respond to the accusations at your disciplinary hearing. We will help you get a fair judgement and avoid the types of penalties that affect your livelihood and career.
Who do our B.C. disciplinary hearing lawyers represent?
Our disciplinary hearing lawyers are based in Vancouver and can represent the following types of professionals:
- Physiotherapists and chiropractors
- Massage therapists
- Dentists and dental hygienists
- Real estate agents and mortgage specialists
- Teachers and accredited child carers
- Students attending university or college
What is a professional disciplinary hearing?
A professional disciplinary hearing is similar to a court hearing but is conducted by an individual or panel/tribunal from the governing or regulatory body of the relevant profession.
A hearing is usually required when accusations of misconduct or unprofessional behaviour are made against a member professional, such as a doctor, nurse, teacher, lawyer or accountant.
If the regulatory body investigates the complaint and finds the accusations to be true, disciplinary sanctions may be imposed after professional disciplinary proceedings.
This could lead to a suspension or, in the most serious cases, the revocation of a license, preventing the professional from continuing to practice.
Is it necessary to hire a lawyer for a professional disciplinary hearing in B.C.?
If you are accused of professional wrongdoing, there is usually nothing to prevent you from hiring legal assistance, the same as you would for a civil or criminal case in the B.C. courts. Many professionals are unaware of this and unnecessarily risk their livelihoods, reputations, and careers.
In some professions like teaching, professionals are offered in-house counsel but this may not be the best course of action. Self-representation is another common choice that may harm your position.
A professional disciplinary hearings lawyer, on the other hand, will use all of his/her experience in such matters to vigorously defend your rights and seek to minimize the impact of any sanctions against you.
Our lawyers also help you manage the stress of the situation and can provide the reassurance you need during such testing times.
Sometimes, elements of criminal law and Charter of Rights provisions apply to these cases, as well as elements of employment law. We are skilled at introducing these elements into cases to defend clients.
Our lawyers are also familiar with all the legal principles that apply to professional disciplinary hearings and can represent you from the start of the investigation to the end of the hearing.
What are the most common charges heard at disciplinary hearings?
Professional disciplinary hearings are held by many professions and cover a range of accusations against members.
Most often, the accusations are solely professional but, sometimes, they are criminal matters that law enforcement must be notified of.
In B.C. we typically defend the following charges at disciplinary hearings:
- Gross misconduct
- Professional misconduct
- Sexual harassment/misconduct
- Verbal abuse/bullying
What sanctions can a B.C. disciplinary hearing impose?
During a disciplinary hearing, both sides can provide evidence to support their positions. Then, a panel will usually decide on what, if any, sanctions need to be imposed on the professional.
If the panel decides that the individual is not culpable, he/she may receive no sanctions or other consequences — though his/her reputation may have been sullied by the allegations. Bear in mind that some professional disciplinary hearing outcomes are published and available to the public.
If the professional is found guilty of the charges, one of the following penalties may be applied by the governing body:
- A financial penalty (fine and/or payment of costs for the hearing)
- Suspension of membership or license to practice
- Termination of membership or license to practice
- Mandatory education
- Community service
Should you report criminal charges to your professional licensing board?
Whether you need to report criminal charges to the governing body depends on your profession. You should familiarize yourself with the requirements of your profession’s licensing board in B.C.
Often, it depends on the nature of the charge against you. Charges for crimes of moral turpitude, such as rape, child abuse or robbery are regarded as very serious in professional environments and can result in an immediate suspension. A DUI charge where nobody was injured, on the other hand, may not need to be reported.
Rather than reporting a criminal charge unnecessarily to your licensing board and incurring possible sanctions, check with one of our employment lawyers about your legal obligations.
If you are required to report a charge, it’s best to abide by the regulation or you could risk losing your license — even if the charges are later dropped or you are acquitted at trial and have no criminal conviction.
Can you continue working if you report criminal charges?
Again, to understand whether you can still practice after reporting a criminal charge, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations from your professional licensing board.
In many cases, for non-serious charges, you can continue practicing your profession while the disciplinary process is resolved.
What if you no-show at your disciplinary hearing?
If you decide not to turn up to your professional disciplinary hearing, there are two possible outcomes:
- The hearing will be rescheduled
- The hearing will proceed without you
Generally, if you have a valid reason, rescheduling is possible. However, a no-show with no valid reason can be disastrous as the hearing may proceed and you will have no opportunity to defend yourself.
The panel will then need to make a decision based only on the evidence against you — opening up the possibility of several damaging scenarios.
Do you need help with a disciplinary hearing in B.C.?
A negative outcome from a professional disciplinary hearing can seriously affect your reputation and your career. We can minimize the impact of the accusations against you using our experience in such cases.
Book A Consultation
At Taylor Janis LLP, we have the skills, knowledge, and expertise to handle all of your employment & labour law needs.
We also have a dedicated intake form to help you get the ball rolling. Our intake team will review your specific case and advise you on the next steps to take as well as what to expect moving forward.
Our Vancouver office is open 8:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m., Mon—Fri.
Evan Harvey is a lawyer practicing labour and employment law in the Vancouver office. He prides himself in a compassionate and focused approach to developing and maintaining trusting client relationships and advocating his clients’ interests in a meticulous, concise, and straight-forward manner.