Health Inspector Defense Lawyer

Have you been alerted of an Administrative Complaint filed against your Florida health inspector license? Are you worried about how the complaint may affect your future security, reputation, and career? A complaint filed against a licensed health inspector or any licensed professional in Florida can have detrimental outcomes, including hefty fines, a restriction on services provided, damage to your reputation, and sometimes a rescinded license.

Even if the complaint is unfounded, you should contact a professional license defense attorney like the ones at The Umansky Law Firm as soon as you become aware of an impending investigation. That will allow ample time to gather information about the incident. The more information we’re equipped with when meeting the investigator, the more desirable an outcome we will likely accomplish in protecting your future as a licensed Florida health inspector.

What Does a Health Inspector Do?

In Florida, health inspectors provide essential services to the public by performing inspection related to health, sanitization, and safety.

Health inspectors work for either the:

  • Department of Health (DOH),
  • Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR), or
  • Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

As occupational health and safety experts, they are responsible for preserving public safety through various inspections at restaurants to review sanitation and hygiene levels, or other occupational hazards in work environments. After an inspection is complete, a health inspector will give the workplace a Satisfactory, Unsatisfactory, or Incomplete result. An Unsatisfactory result indicates a significant threat to public health and must be resolved before a follow-up inspection.

Why is it Important for a Health Inspector to be Licensed in Florida?

Professional licensing is required to work as a Health Inspector in Florida. To become licensed, health inspectors must meet educational requirements with a bachelor’s degree in public health, health science, environmental science, physical or biological science. This requirement is mandatory to become licensed and guarantees that health inspectors are qualified to verify sanitization levels to protect the Florida public. Performing inspections without a valid license can result in detrimental consequences that could involve criminal charges.

Who Licenses Health Inspectors in Florida?

In Florida, health inspectors are licensed by the DOH. Individuals complete an application for Environmental Health Professional Certification and submit their college transcripts before being granted licensure. The DOH must verify that individuals pass all examinations and meet all requirements to ensure that health inspectors are qualified for this position that protects the health and safety of the public.

What are Common Complaints Against Health Inspectors That Result in Disciplinary Action?

Licensed health inspectors in Florida may face disciplinary actions for complaints related to negligible or misleading inspection services. According to Florida Statute 456.072, grounds for discipline against a licensed Florida health inspector include:

  • Performing inspections without a valid license
  • Being convicted of a crime which relates to their profession
  • Making false claims or filing false reports concerning safety and sanitization
  • Intentionally violating any rule adopted by the DOH
  • Being unable to inspect with reasonable skill and safety because of illness, or use of alcohol, drugs, or narcotics
  • Sexual misconduct

Health inspectors are held up to a high standard to understand when there are risks in a restaurant or workplace that endangers the public. Suppose they approve a workplace with a Satisfactory result on an inspection that clearly falls below the minimum standards. In that case, they can face disciplinary action that could lead to loss of license.

How Would Someone File a Complaint Against a Florida Health Inspector?

Anyone who wants to file a complaint against a licensed Florida health inspector would do so by contacting the Florida DOH and completing a complaint form through the Florida Health Care Complaint Portal. The DOH online services also allow the public to confirm the validity of a health inspector’s license to ensure the state authorizes them.

How Does the Complaint Process Work in Florida?

After the DOH receives a complaint against a licensed health inspector, it’s researched further by an investigator with the Consumer Services Unit. The investigation involves an interview with you and collecting information to establish whether the complaint has sufficient legal grounds to file a formal Administrative Complaint.

Information collected during a DOH investigation typically includes:

  • Interviews with complainants
  • Interviews with the subject of the complaint
  • Interviews with witnesses
  • Issuing subpoenas
  • Recording sworn statements
  • Gathering detailed evidence
  • Preparing reports

As a licensed Florida health inspector, it is strongly advised that you retain a qualified and skilled professional license attorney as soon as possible to be present at an interview during the investigation and help you establish a response. An experienced lawyer can often achieve a dismissal before the complaint becomes available to the public. At this time, you have the best opportunity of saving your career and reputation from damage.

If the investigation procures enough evidence to move the allegation to the next step, the complaint will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel. That will usually involve members on the DOH who review the documents and evidence associated with the claim.

The Probable Cause Panel Assesses the Complaint

If the investigation discovers sufficient information to push the Administrative Complaint forward, it will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel. This panel reviews evidence to support the complaint along with rules of regulations that were violated.

At this time, it is essential that you’ve partnered with an experienced administrative defense attorney. Your professional future depends on how you handle this process. To protect your career, we strongly discourage any attempt to manage the situation alone.

The panel review may lead to three possible results:

  • Finding no probable cause: a dismissal of the case
  • Issuing a letter of guidance: a determination that a minor violation did occur
  • Issuing a formal Administrative Complaint: the most severe of outcomes

A determination of “no probable cause” means there was insufficient evidence to establish that you violated any rule or regulation. A “letter of guidance” is not a disciplinary action but can still damage your professional reputation. If a formal Administrative Complaint is issued against you, the Administrative Complaint process proceeds to the next step.

What’s the Process of an Administrative Complaint?

An Administrative Complaint outlines the evidence and information found against you during the investigation and the specific laws or regulations you’re accused of violating. At this time, the complaint becomes public record. Even if the complaint is thrown out, your reputation as a licensed health inspector could be damaged. After consulting with your attorney, you can decide whether you want to attend an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing.

Informal Hearing

If you choose to proceed with an Informal Hearing, you do not intend to argue with any of the accusations against you, nor do you want to reveal any new evidence. Instead, you’re accepting the complaints, and the DOH will make a definitive decision on penalties that will be enforced against you.

Formal Hearing

If you wish to dispute the allegations and evidence found against you during the investigation, you move forward to a Formal Hearing. This hearing is before Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) and is chaired by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ considers the evidence from both sides and makes a final Recommended Order to the DOH. The Department then makes a final decision on what disciplinary actions you’ll face.

Remember that you can appeal the decision by filing a petition for judicial review if your health inspector’s license is suspended or revoked. Your attorney is your most trusted advocate and a vital part of your defense team when going through this process – always seek counsel from them before making a final decision.

How Can a Professional License Defense Attorney Assist?

At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional license defense team examines each case in great detail to uncover the facts and the most effective way to proceed. Complaints against health inspectors can sometimes go to criminal court and be subject to criminal charges. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer with broad experience in professional license defense is essential.

Our attorneys can help you in some of the following ways:

  • Review the complaint against you and build a defense by obtaining evidence, documents, and witnesses that help you
  • Prevent you from incriminating yourself as you respond to the allegations
  • Defend against potential criminal charges that may arise from the complaint
  • Determine the motive or bias behind the person who made the complaint against you
  • Help you respond to the Probable Cause Investigation by securing documents, witnesses, and other methods to prove there is no probable cause for the complaint
  • Help to try and get the complaint dismissed by the Probable Cause Panel
  • Argue that a guidance letter is better than a prosecution
  • Mitigate any potential penalties the DOH may want to take
  • Present evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine witnesses at a Formal Review Hearing
  • Help dispute the findings at an informal review hearing
  • Appeal the hearing

Trusted Florida Health Inspector Defense Lawyers at Umansky Law Firm

If you have been accused of an offense where the DOH may revoke or suspend your license or business activities, contact The Umansky Law Firm to defend you. As accomplished trial lawyers, we can help you develop a strong defense against the claims you face that may include dismissal of the investigation or complaint filed against you. Because we have a criminal defense experience that includes government agencies like the DOH, we are well equipped to defend you in the administrative action and help you avert license suspension and criminal prosecution.

Each attorney with The Umansky Law Firm’s professional license defense team works with doctors, nurses, health inspectors, and some have experience working directly for the DOH and Department of Business and Professional Regulation. To speak with an administrative attorney today about your Florida health inspector license, schedule a free consultation by completing a contact form or call today at (407) 228-3838.