A Primer on Professional Regulation: What to know about the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation

The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational (DPOR) is an agency of the Commonwealth of Virginia that regulates approximately 312,000 individuals and businesses in more than 30 occupations and professions. Professions such as contractors, architects and engineers, real estate professionals, surveyors, cosmetologists, community associations, and crematories fall within the ambit of DPOR and its regulatory scope. It is important for those in professions overseen by DPOR to understand its scope, processes, and how to navigate complaints. Some of the most frequently asked questions about DPOR are summarized below.

Who does DPOR Regulate?

A list of businesses that are regulated by DPOR can be found here. Lawyers and medical professionals do not fall within DPOR and are instead regulated by other authorities.

What Does DPOR Do?

DPOR issues professional licenses, certificates or registrations. It is important to note that DPOR sets minimum competencies necessary to practice a certain regulated profession. DPOR has several policy boards that determine these minimum competencies, based upon education, experience, and examinations.

How does DPOR Regulate Professions?

Aside from setting minimum competencies for each regulated profession, DPOR also receives, evaluates, and adjudicates written complaints filed against a person falling within DPOR’s regulatory authority. One of the possible outcomes of a DPOR complaint is loss or suspension of your license to conduct business, which could cause you to endure hours and hours of stress in addition to a loss of income. Other negative outcomes include fines and remedial education.

How does the Complaint Process Proceed?

Anyone can file a written complaint within three years of an alleged violation of a statute of a professional regulation. Once a written complaint is filed, DPOR will evaluate the Complaint to ensure the Complaint states facts that support a potential violation of state law of state regulations. Assuming the Complaint meets muster, DPOR will contact the license holder for a response to the Complaint.

Responding to a DPOR Complaint.

When responding to a DPOR Complaint, do not dither. Preparing a strong response to the DPOR Complaint is absolutely necessary and you are typically only given a couple of weeks to respond. You can ask for an extension of time by which to file, but do not ignore the Complaint.

Your response should include a detailed recitation of the facts related to the work you conducted.  Be sure to include relevant pictures and evidence needed to support your position. Once you have gathered the necessary factual support for your position, contact an experienced attorney to assist you in drafting legal points to support your actions.