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"I just found out that someone filed a complaint against me with the Board. What happens next?"

THE BOARD'S MISSION is to protect the public, and an important part of the mission is investigating allegations that a social worker has violated the Minnesota Social Work Practice Act. When the Board receives a complaint against a licensed social worker, Compliance Unit staff investigate the allegations, then a Compliance Panel of Board members reviews the investigation and decides how to resolve the complaint. The full Board must also approve certain disciplinary orders. 


ALL OPEN COMPLAINT investigations are classified as confidential under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, Minnesota Statutes 13.41, subdivision 4. That means that the Board will not disclose that a complaint was received unless that information is necessary for the person given the information to do their job, such as Board staff, Board members who review complaints, and members of the Office of the Attorney General who advise the Board. A licensee may continue to practice social work while an investigation is ongoing. Licensees are always notified if the Board determines that they must cease practicing while the Board investigates allegations against them. 


WHEN THE BOARD investigates a complaint, we follow requirements in Minnesota Statutes Chapters 148E and 214.  The licensee whose practice we are investigating is always notified of the complaint, and the Board may request or subpoena employment and client records to clarify the events that led to the complaint being filed. Some complaints are referred to the Office of the Attorney General to investigate, and the Board conducts joint investigations with other health licensing boards when a social worker is also licensed by another board.


ONCE THE COMPLIANCE UNIT has gathered information, the investigative file is reviewed by a Compliance Panel composed of Board members.  The Panel may decide to dismiss the complaint, request further investigation, request a conference with the licensee, propose an administrative remedy such as charging a license late fee, or propose a disciplinary or corrective action. Detailed information about the resolution of complaints is available here: Compliance Case Data 2023.


IF A LICENSEE refuses or fails to cooperate with an investigation or if the Board and the licensee are unable to agree on a resolution, the Board may initiate a contested case.  An Administrative Law Judge then reviews evidence regarding the allegations and issues findings that state whether the Board should take disciplinary action. The full Board then decides what disciplinary action to take. 


IF A COMPLAINT is dismissed, all data regarding the complaint and investigation is classified as private, which means that it is only available to the subject of the information received by the Board. If the Board issues a disciplinary or corrective action, this document is published on the Board’s website, so the information in the action is public.  But other investigative information is still classified as private. To see a list of all Board actions, go to Board Actions. All disciplinary and corrective actions can be viewed by searching for a licensee and downloading the action document associated with their license. 


IN 2022, the Board’s Compliance Unit received 465 complaints, and the Board had jurisdiction to investigate 373 of these complaints. 135 of these complaints were opened by the Board due to noncompliance with license renewal and supervision or due to information that an applicant or licensee disclosed on a license or renewal application. The remaining 228 complaints were from third parties regarding a licensee’s social work practice.