Hinshaw School Law Alert
Illinois Updates Its OT Licensing Law
Illinois recently updated its occupational therapist (OT) licensing law to allow for OT services to be implemented in school settings without the need for a health care provider's referral. The law went into effect December 31, 2013. However, for purposes of Medicaid reimbursement, a health care provider's referral remains necessary, as recently highlighted in an Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services notification. This change in local licensing practice warrants review of your OT service delivery procedures to ensure that eligible students will receive OT services in a timely manner and that there is not an unnecessary delay in the delivery of OT services due to a wait for receipt of a medical referral. The need for a medical referral for reimbursement purposes is not the same as the need for a medical evaluation confirming that the delivery of OT services will not cause or aggravate a medical condition for purposes of providing a free appropriate public education.
New Law Allows Employers to Seek Orders of Protection to Prevent Violence
The Workplace Violence Prevention Act (the "Act") was designed to prevent workplace violence and became law this past January. The Act allows employers to seek an order of protection against any individual who has committed, or threatened to commit, an "act of violence, harassment or stalking" against an employee at the workplace.
To obtain an order of protection, an employer must file an affidavit with the court demonstrating "reasonable proof" that an employee has suffered either unlawful violence (including harassment or stalking) at the workplace, or a credible threat of such conduct. Notably, this law only provides the employer the option of seeking an order to protect the workplace, but does not impose a duty on the employer to actively seek such an order.
While the Act was introduced in order to assist employers in protecting their workforce and property, it does have notable limitations. Of note to school districts, the law is not designed to be used when an offender commits violence or threatened to commit violence against a non-employee. For example, as written, a school district likely would not be able to use this law to petition for an order of protection based on an act of violence or threat against a student.
However, it could be a helpful, but ancillary, tool to use against violence or associated threats involving a teacher or other staff member. Important to remember is that if a school district takes action to seek an order of protection, it must make clear to the victimized employee that the steps the school district is taking are only ancillary to the employee's own acts of protection. Because a school lacks full control over these orders, and because these orders expire and have critical deadlines, the school district needs to prevent employees from relying on any action by the district in petitioning or securing an order of protection. Such reliance could "lull" the employee into a sense of safety and prevent the employee from taking further action needed for safety. It could conceivably put the employee at greater risk should the order of protection expire or should deadlines be missed by the school district. School districts are encouraged to contact their counsel to further explore the potential implications of this law on their operations.
This alert has been prepared by Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP to provide information on recent legal developments of interest to our readers. It is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship.