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People with Criminal Records Cannot Be Barred from Nursing Home Jobs, Penn. Court Rules

January 7, 2016

A Pennsylvania appeals court on December 30 struck down a provision of a state law that forbids people who have been convicted of certain crimes from working in nursing homes.

In a unanimous decision (pdf), Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt wrote that the portion of the state Older Adults Protective Services Act that contains the lifetime employment ban on people who have committed certain crimes is “unconstitutional on its face,” violating Pennsylvanians’ rights to due process and equal protection under the law.

The struck-down provision of the law said that Pennsylvanians who have been convicted of a wide range of crimes — from murder and rape to misdemeanor theft — are permanently ineligible to work in nursing homes.

The provision makes no consideration “of any other factor, such as the nature of the crime, the facts surrounding the conviction, the time elapsed since the conviction, evidence of the individual’s rehabilitation, and the nature and requirements of the job,” Leavitt wrote.

The decision stems from a lawsuit brought by several Pennsylvania job seekers who were denied jobs in nursing homes because of decades-old criminal convictions.

Although the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office defended the Older Adults Protective Services Act in court, it is not clear whether the state will appeal the court’s decision to the state Supreme Court.

— by Matthew Ozga

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