The Law Offices of Brian E. Quinn

Are professional licensing boards out of control?

From a consumer’s perspective, licensing boards might provide some level of confidence in the skills of a professional service provider. For example, doctors and lawyers must be licensed in order to practice, and licensing boards have the authority to suspend or revoke professional licenses for misconduct, ethical or other professional violations. In those instances, licensing serves an important public safety function.

Yet a recent article questions whether the licensing movement has gone too far. In many states, for example, a license may be required of florists, barbers, basic primary-care workers, manicurists, or even maintenance workers. Accordingly, the article asserts that licensing requirements have created barriers that keep many potentially qualified workers out of industries or employment for which they would otherwise be qualified.

Licensing boards have many powers. For example, a board may impose a waiting period on anyone who has been convicted of a crime. Some question whether ex-offenders are pushed back into recidivism because they can’t enter professions sooner after their release. Other critics assert that over involvement in licensing creates a drain on the economy.

It may seem like there are few checks on a licensing board’s authority. However, that power is not absolute, given a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that concluded that a potential antitrust violation may be present when the same individuals both serve on the state licensing board and practice themselves in that profession. In addition, many laws and regulations govern professional license defense in Pennsylvania. An attorney can help to protect a professional’s rights when he or she is named in a complaint.

Source: Washington Post, “If states want to help workers find jobs, they should reform licensing,” Jack Markell, June 2, 2016

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