The Importance of Complying with Professional Licensing Rules

By: Werner Sabo

A recent Delaware case shows the importance of complying with professional licensing requirements. In Schultz v. Del. Bd. of Architects, 2018 Del. Super. LEXIS 83 (Feb. 16, 2018), the state’s rules for architects included a requirement at the time that each architect complete 12 hours of continuing education each year, of which all required CE hours were to be in health, safety and welfare subjects. Failure to meet this requirement would result in discipline. Architects would self-report at each two-year license renewal cycle, with random audits being conducted by the state to assure compliance.

Mr. Schultz was selected to be audited for the years 2014 and 2015. It turned out that he had completed 13.5 of the required 12 hours for 2014, and 8 of the required 12 hours for 2015. Thus, he was short four hours of CE in 2015. The Board held a hearing to show cause why disciplinary sanctions should not be imposed. At the hearing, Schultz admitted that he “had made a mistake” and “miscalculated” the CE’s. The Board decided to issue a letter of reprimand and fine him $1,000.

Schultz then appealed to the court. He argued that the Board should not discipline him because he did not willfully violate the CE requirements and the punishment would impose an undue hardship on him. He also argued that the violation was inadvertent and an “innocent error.” The court affirmed the Board’s discipline.

All other states where a licensee, such as an architect, also holds a license is notified of any disciplinary action by a state board. This can have an adverse effect on a professional, including additional discipline by these other states, and the results could be even worse than those in the first state. Thus, it is important that professionals do not receive any reported discipline. In this case, the additional hours in one year did not carry over to the following year. The Board determined that the fact that the architect had made a simple “miscalculation” or “mistake” would not help him. Rules are rules and must be followed in order to avoid discipline.

Every state has laws and rules that govern each licensed profession. The rules govern the requirements, including continuing education requirements, of that state. Compliance with those requirements is essential if a professional wants to maintain that license.

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