PENNSYLVANIA: Nursing Home Workers Challenge Rule
Four former Pennsylvania nursing home workers filed suit last week in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, challenging a 1997 state law that prohibits nursing homes from hiring workers with criminal histories and requires facilities to fire workers with criminal records that were hired after July 1, 1997, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. More specifically, the law prohibits nursing homes from hiring individuals convicted of a felony or two or more theft-related misdemeanors. Sean Connolly, spokesperson for Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher (R) said, "The design of the law was to ensure that nursing home residents and people who need around-the-clock care are protected from those who may abuse them or steal from them." But the lawsuit, spearheaded by Philadelphia-based Community Legal Services and not-for-profit agency Resources for Human Development Inc., argues that the law violates the state's constitution by preventing workers from "earning a living in their chosen fields." Furthermore, the suit states that the law "also makes finding good workers more difficult in a field in which wages historically have been low and turnover rates high." Dennis Roberts, associate director for Resources for Human Development, said in a statement, "Our experience as an employer has shown ... that people with criminal records can become valuable employees. The law is an unwarranted intrusion into our right to hire the people that we evaluate as best-qualified for our jobs" (Jeer, 8/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.