Report a Complaint
Prior to submitting a complaint it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with General Statute § 89G-2 License Required and §89G-3 Exemptions to ensure that you understand what constitutes unlicensed practice and false advertising. The advertising portion of NCGS § 89G-2 is aimed at prohibiting unlicensed persons from advertising licensure, not from advertising the practice of irrigation.
Below is a complaint form that may be submitted electronically, but if preferred you may file a complaint manually, please click here to complete a hard-copy of the complaint form that may be submitted by mail, email or fax to the Board office. Please be as detailed and specific as possible when submitting a complaint. Complete site addresses are necessary for investigation. Submit any documentation, pictures (especially for an advertising complaint) or evidence that might substantiate the complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org. Once the case is closed, the complainant will receive correspondence from the Board with the results of the case.
After a case has been investigated and closed, the complaint details are a matter of public record including the name of the complainant. Anonymous complaints will not be accepted.
*This office does not have the authority to give private legal advice or provide private legal representation to individual consumers.
Complaint Processing Procedure
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.
There are three types of complaints that the Board typically receives; advertising, unlicensed practice or a combination of the two, and minimum standards. There are some variations in the way each of the complaint types are processed.
An advertising complaint may be filed by a member of the public, a licensee or by the Board Administration who may come upon advertising in its day to day duties. In all cases, the Board’s Administration reviews the complaint to determine if the alleged violation comes under the Board’s statutory authority. If the violation falls under the guidelines of NC General Statute § 89G, Board Administration will send the respondent (the individual the complaint has been filed against) a Notice of Complaint. The complaint will then be forwarded to the NC Department of Justice for possible disciplinary action.
An unlicensed practice complaint may be filed by a member of the public, a licensee or by a Board Investigator that may discover the alleged violation in the performance of their duties as field investigators. After reviewing the complaint, Board Administration will first check to make sure this individual is not covered under any of the statutes’ exemptions, General Statute §89G 3 Exemptions. If this is a first offense, a Notice of Complaint is sent to the respondent. Board Administration will assign a Field Investigator to the case and forward all complaint information. After a thorough investigation has been performed where the investigator has contacted the homeowner, inspection department, complainant and any other parties involved, the investigator will contact the respondent to obtain their account of the complaint and obtain any additional documentation or evidence. Investigators will at this time, not only gather the facts but try to educate and guide the respondent regarding various aspects of the licensing law. The Investigator’s findings are reported to Board Counsel. After reviewing the report and all of the evidence, Legal Counsel will forward the case file to the Investigative Committee with a recommendation. After reviewing the case and recommendation, the Investigative Committee will forward their determination to Legal Counsel and Board Administration. There are a variety of scenarios that can take place at this point but the case will either be forwarded to the NC Department of Justice for disciplinary action or if the violation is less serious the case may be closed with a warning letter.
Minimum standard complaints are typically filed by homeowners against a licensed irrigation contractor and are investigated in a similar manner to an unlicensed practice complaint. In the case of a first complaint, and based upon the enormity of the infraction, the Investigator with the support of Legal Counsel will try to negotiate an agreement between the homeowner and licensee in order to amend the violation at no additional cost to the homeowner. If the infraction warrants, Legal counsel may recommend to the Investigative Committee some disciplinary action that could include a probationary period, license suspension or settlement agreement. Please note this does not cover all of the possible actions that can be taken by the Board but are the most common.
Once it has been determined that a case is to be submitted to the NC Department of Justice, the Board Attorney will pursue a settlement with the alleged violator. If the respondent agrees to the settlement, it will be brought before the Board for their review. If the Board accepts the settlement agreement, and the terms of the settlement have been completed, the case will then be closed. The complainant is then contacted with the results of the case. If the Board does not accept the agreement, Board Counsel will renegotiate the settlement with the respondent and repeat the process. If the respondent refuses to settle, the case will then go to hearing. Should the respondent be found in violation they may be fined a civil penalty of up to $2000 (two thousand dollars) per violation. It is common for an injunction (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.) to be part of a settlement agreement or imposed during a hearing.
With all complaints, the nature and gravity of the violation, whether the violation was willful and malicious, and if there have been previous complaints, will determine the action taken by the Investigative Committee and the Board. Please note that the 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.