Breaking through bureaucracy as a veterinarian
You get a tax bill that doesn't look right. You disagree with an inspector's findings. The city records show that you owe something dramatically different than expected. When facing a discrepancy against the powers that be, where do you turn?
We asked Dr. Karl Salzsieder, DVM, JD, AVA, owner of Salzsieder Consulting and Legal Services in Longview, Wash. Here are his top four recommendations:
1. Ask for an explanation. "First, call the city, company, or organization for an explanation," says Dr. Salzsieder. "It's important to make contact right away to prevent any penalties that arise from lack of action."Dr. Salzsieder says that, quite often, a quick phone call to the number listed on the form, letter or bill can clear up any confusion.
2. Put it in writing. Dr. Salzsieder recommends following up a phone call with a written memo that details the call. This is especially important if the problem wasn't resolved during that one call.
The content of the memo is also important. If legal action is taken, a third party would need to see that it was unreasonable for a government agency to not reply to the memo.
3. Work up the chain of command. What's a business owner's recourse when attempts for answers go unheard? They should take any further inquiries or protest to a written correspondence protocol and copy the person's supervisor.
4. Consult an attorney. Once you've exhausted the above steps, it might be time to bring in legal counsel or begin a formal procedure of complaint. Generally an agency's documentation will spell out a formal procedure for disputes. And at this point you'll want to consult an attorney, if not retain one.