North Carolina
State Board of Examiners of Plumbing, Heating and Fire Sprinkler Contractors


Complaints

Click here for a Complaint Form



Complaint Processing Procedure

A consumer, city or county inspection department, licensee or any member of the public can file a complaint against a licensee of the Board for issues related to work which requires a license from the Board. Similarly, a complaint can be filed against any unlicensed individual who contracts, performs or offers to contract or perform plumbing, heating, air conditioning, fire sprinkler or fuel piping work which requires a license from the Board. Complaints must be submitted to the Board by completing a Formal Complaint form.

The Board's staff of Administrative Officers can also file and process complaints (referred to as field complaints) discovered during the performance of their duties as "field investigators". While this type of complaint is investigated in a similar manner to a formal complaint, there are distinct differences in the steps taken during the investigation.

Once the complaint has been received (formal complaint or field complaint), the complainant is not a party to the complaint; the only parties to the complaint are the Respondent and the Board.

The processes that follow describe the manner in which formal complaints are typically addressed; however, the Board and its staff reserve the right to modify the process if deemed necessary due to the existence of extenuating circumstances.

Formal Complaint Process:

Following the receipt of a formal complaint in our office, the following steps are typically taken: The Complaint Coordinator reviews the complaint to determine if the complaint comes under the Board's statutory authority. If unsure, the Complaint Coordinator will consult with the Executive Director Upon determination that the complaint falls within the authority of the Board, in most cases letters are sent to the following: Consumer, agency or entity filing the complaint Respondent (licensed individual or non-licensed individual the complaint has been filed against). A copy of the complaint is typically included in the letter to the respondent asking that the respondent issues a written response to the complaint within 10 days. A copy of the complaint is forwarded to one of the Board's Administrative Officers for investigation. Upon receipt of the requested response from the Respondent, a copy is forwarded to the Administrative Officer assigned to the case for inclusion in his investigative file. The original is placed in the office file.

Complaints against Licensees of our Board

Typically after a thorough investigation has been performed (where the investigator has met with the homeowner, inspection department, complainant, other parties, etc.), the investigator will meet with the licensee in order to obtain the licensee's account of the complaint and obtain any additional documentation or evidence. During this meeting if the Administrative Officer feels that disciplinary action is warranted, the Administrative Officer has the discretion to propose and enter into a voluntary disciplinary agreement (referred to as a Proposed Resolution Agreement) with the licensee. This occurs only if the licensee agrees to the discipline. Any discipline that a licensee voluntary agrees to also provides the licensee with the opportunity to withdraw from the agreement within the appeal period, which ends thirty (30) days after signing and entering into the agreement. Upon the expiration of the thirty (30) day appeal period the agreement is forwarded to a member of the Board's Resolution Review Committee (RRC) for review and approval. If approved by a member of the RRC, the agreement is then forwarded to a quorum of the Board for review and approval as a final order. Any discipline agreed upon must first be approved by a member of the Resolution Review Committee and then approved by the Board before it becomes effective.

A case will be forwarded to the RRC for the following reasons: (a) If the administrative officer does not offer a voluntary discipline agreement to the licensee; (b) If a voluntary discipline agreement is not agreed upon between the administrative officer and the licensee; (c) If the RRC member performing the review does not feel that the agreement entered into between the Administrative Officer and the Respondent is appropriate, or (d) If the licensee withdraws from a Proposed Resolution Agreement during the appeal period. Please note that this list does not cover all of the possible situations in which a case may be referred to the RRC, but does include the most prevalent circumstances. The RRC will then hold a scheduled meeting to review the case file. The licensee is invited and strongly urged to attend the meeting, but is not required to appear. The RRC receives information relative to the complaint from the Administrative Officer(s) who investigated it. If the licensee chooses to attend, the RRC also gives the licensee an opportunity to present their account of the complaint and any additional information pertinent to the complaint. At the conclusion of the RRC meeting, the committee members deliberate, and if they feel that disciplinary action is warranted, the RRC has the discretion to propose and enter into a voluntary disciplinary agreement (referred to as a Resolution Conference Proposed Resolution Agreement) with the licensee (only if the licensee agrees to the discipline). Any discipline that a licensee voluntary agrees to also provides the licensee with the opportunity to withdraw from the agreement within the appeal period, which ends thirty (30) days after signing and entering into the agreement.

A case will be forwarded to the Board's attorney for preparation and presentation in a Formal Hearing for the following reasons: (a) If the RRC does not offer a voluntary discipline agreement to the licensee; (b) If a voluntary discipline agreement is not agreed upon between the RRC and the licensee; (c) Or if the licensee withdraws from a Review Conference Proposed Resolution Agreement.

Please note that this list does not cover all of the possible situations in which a case may be referred to the RRC, but does include the most prevalent circumstances.

Complaints against Unlicensed Persons

Typically after a thorough investigation has been performed (where the investigator has met with the homeowner, inspection department, complainant, other parties, etc.), the investigator will meet with the unlicensed person in order to obtain their side of the complaint and obtain any additional documentation or evidence. In a meeting with the unlicensed person, the Administrative Officer typically handles first time complaints with a consent agreement. The consent agreement is a signed and notarized affidavit drafted by the Administrative Officer. As part of the consent agreement, the individual acknowledges that he/she contracted and/or performed work that required a license which they did not hold, and that they will not contractor or perform any work that requires a license until such time that they receive their own license. The Administrative Officer can recommend that the case be forwarded for an Injunction if he has reasonable doubt that the unlicensed person will not abide by the Consent Agreement, or if the unlicensed person has had previous complaints.

Upon completion of the investigation, the complaint file is forwarded to a member of the RRC for review. During the review, the RRC member can accept consent agreements, ask the Administrative Officer for additional information, or send the file for an injunction or contempt of court charges. If the complaint warrants an Injunction or Contempt of Court charge, the file is forwarded to the Board's Attorney and the Court System. An Injunction is an order entered against the unlicensed individual enjoining them from performing any work that requires a license by this Board until properly licensed to do so. If the Court finds that the unlicensed individual has violated an Injunction, then an Order of Contempt will be filed with the appropriate court. Individuals found guilty of contempt by the courts are subject to fines and/or imprisonment up to five-hundred dollars ($500.00) and thirty (30) days per charge.

Please note that processes outlined above does not cover all of the possible situations or steps in the investigative or discipline process, but does include the most prevalent circumstances and are how complaints are typically addressed; however, the Board and its staff reserve the right to modify the process if deemed necessary.

Filing a Formal Complaint

If you wish to file a complaint with the Board please download a Formal Complaint Form by clicking on the link below, or you may call the office at 919-875-3612 to request that a form be mailed to you.

Click here to download a Formal Complaint Form