Lifetime ban from nursing home work 'unconstitutional,' court rules

The lifetime ban on felons working in nursing homes "defies logic," the court ruled
The lifetime ban on felons working in nursing homes "defies logic," the court ruled

Those who have committed specific crimes in Pennsylvania cannot be banned from working in long-term care facilities, a court has ruled in direct defiance of a current prohibition.

The state's Older Adults Protective Services Act includes a ban on felons working in nursing homes, and is meant to keep out those who have committed violent crimes, such as rape and homicide. But five people recently challenged the provision, claiming their old convictions unfairly barred them from pursuing long-term care careers. The petitioners include one man who rode in a stolen car as a teenager, and another who was convicted of writing bad checks.

In an opinion released last week, the court ruled that the broad provision was unconstitutional and “goes beyond the necessities” of the act's objective to protect older adults.

“Indeed, 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,” wrote Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt.

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, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He also noted that the state could benefit from a “more reasoned law” to block people convicted of certain crimes 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 told the Post-Gazette.

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.