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Q&A with Aimee Majoue: Professional licensure boards regulate many Oklahoma industries

Aimee Majoue is a Crowe & Dunlevy attorney and member of the Administrative & Regulatory Practice Group.
Aimee Majoue is a Crowe & Dunlevy attorney and member of the Administrative & Regulatory Practice Group.

What professions are licensed by the state in Oklahoma, and how are they regulated?

About one in three professions requires a license or certification by the State of Oklahoma. These occupations include, but are not limited to, cosmetology professionals, nursing professionals, dental professionals, medical professionals, physical therapy professionals, psychology professionals, pharmacy professionals, veterinary medicine professionals, electricians, plumbers, truck and city or school bus drivers, insurance agents, radiologic technologists, real estate professionals, security professionals, funeral care professionals and general contractors. Each profession’s licensing requirements are usually regulated by a board or agency, which is given power to enforce and maintain licensing requirements for that profession by the Oklahoma Legislature.

What authority do those regulatory boards/agencies have over those who practice in that field?

Each regulatory board or agency’s authority is defined by the legislation that creates those bodies. Usually, the legislation creating the board or agency gives broad discretion to the entity to create regulations and licensing requirements specific to the professional field of which that entity has the most knowledge and narrowed to the compelling interest of the state in overseeing that particular profession. For example, Oklahoma has a compelling public interest in licensing individuals who provide medical services to people, so the Oklahoma State Medical Board has broad discretion in licensing those medical professionals. These boards or agencies typically have the authority to create licensing applications and procedures, process those applications, approve licensing and revoke someone’s license.

Can a board/agency strip professionals of their licenses once they are earned?

Yes, a board or agency may strip professionals of their licenses, but the board or agency must act within its authority and provide the professional with adequate opportunity to present evidence supporting his or her right to maintain the license. A board or agency has more power to prevent an individual from being licensed than it has power to remove a license from a professional once one has been granted. A professional license is considered a property interest once it has been granted, because continued possession of the license may be essential to the pursuit of a livelihood. Further, an individual may have a liberty interest in a license because it provides a right to enjoy employment opportunities in one’s chosen field or a right to one’s reputation, honor and integrity. These interests invoke protections of the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which require the board or agency to follow certain procedures when revoking a professional’s license.

What recourse do professionals have to defend themselves before these boards?

A professional facing revocation of his or her license is entitled to Due Process rights, which generally entail notice of the revocation proceeding against them and a right to a hearing to contest the revocation. The notice should include the board or agency’s intent to revoke the license and an explanation of the grounds for doing so. At the hearing, the professional will have the opportunity to present evidence supporting why he or she should maintain the license. If you are a professional facing license revocation proceedings, you are encouraged to seek legal advice and representation from an attorney.

Paula Burkes, Business writer

Paula Burkes

Paula Burkes has nearly 40 years' experience writing and editing award-winning material, including since early 2001 with the business desk of The Oklahoman. After earning a journalism degree from Oklahoma State University in 1981, Paula wrote for... Read more ›