Sexual Harassment Training Becomes Mandatory for All Professionals Licensed by IDFPR
All professionals licensed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) whose licenses come up for renewal after January 1, 2020 and who must satisfy continuing education requirements need to complete one hour of sexual harassment and prevention training under a law that Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed.
Health care companies that employ registered nurses, pharmacists, doctors and other health care professionals licensed by IDFPR should start making plans to conduct sexual harassment training to help their employees avoid license renewal issues next year.
Most large and medium-sized corporations have conducted in-house harassment and discrimination training for years. More than 20 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that companies may have an affirmative defense against lawsuits alleging that a supervisor sexually harassed a subordinate if the employer adopted and annually trained its employees on policies that:
define the different forms of sexual harassment,
detail to whom to report harassment complaints,
detail how the company will investigate such complaints, and
prohibit retaliation for good-faith reporting of such complaints
After those Supreme Court decisions, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission adopted a similar standard for all forms of illegal discrimination.
The new Illinois law, an outgrowth of the #MeToo movement, governs only sexual harassment, not other forms of discrimination. But smart employers will protect their employees and themselves by combining sexual harassment training with training on other types of discrimination. That approach allows employees to obtain the needed continuing education credits under the new law while simultaneously ensuring that employees understand what constitutes harassment and discrimination, to whom employees can report complaints and how their employers will investigate such complaints.
The new state statute is short on details. It simply says that all professionals who have continuing education requirements and are renewing their licenses after January 1, 2020 need one hour of continuing education credits on sexual harassment. The statute authorizes IDFPR to provide detailed regulations on such training, which IDFPR has not yet done.