A lifetime employment ban goes too far, court decides

A law that barred long-term care work is inappropriate, the court ruled.
A law that barred long-term care work is inappropriate, the court ruled.

A Pennsylvania court has ruled that individuals who have committed certain crimes cannot be banned from working in long-term care facilities. The ruling overturns a current law that “defies logic,” according to judges on the case.

The state's Older Adults Protective Services Act was designed to keep felons who have committed violent crimes such as rape and homicide off of senior care employment rolls.

Five people, however, challenged the provision, claiming their old convictions unfairly barred them from pursuing long-term care careers. The petitioners included one man who rode in a stolen car as a teenager and another who was convicted of writing bad checks.

The broadly stated provision was unconstitutional and unenforceable and “goes beyond the necessities” of the act's objective to protect older adults, wrote Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt in the court's Dec. 30 opinion.

“It defies logic to suggest that every person who has at any time been convicted of any of the crimes listed in Section 503 of the Act, including misdemeanor theft, presents a danger to those in an Act-covered facility,” Leavitt wrote.

Long-term care applicants still must submit to a criminal record check so facilities can assess those with convictions prior to hiring them, Tad LeVan, attorney for the petitioners, said in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report. He called for a “more reasoned law” to block certain criminals from working in nursing homes.

 “If we were all convicted of stupid things we did as a teenager, and three decades later we couldn't possibly get a job, I think we would have a different view of the fairness of this absolute prohibition,” LeVan said.

The employment ban was found to be unconstitutional by the court once before, but that ruling pertained only to the specific petitioners who brought the case.