PA Law Bars Nursing Homes from Hiring Convicted Felons
A Pennsylvania law prohibiting nursing homes and other facilities that provide care to incapacitated older adults from hiring convicted felons is being challenged in court by a lawsuit that claims the law is unconstitutional. The outcome of the lawsuit could have a significant impact on felons looking for work in senior care facilities and the facilities that care for incapacitated older adults.
The law is Pennsylvania’s Older Adults Protective Service Act, a statute enacted in 1996 to protect incapacitated older adults from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and abandonment. One section in the law prohibits senior care facilities from hiring convicted felons, regardless of the type of felony committed, and irrespective of how long ago the crime was committed. Violators are subject to criminal penalties.
Some other states have similar laws, and some of those laws impose a ban for only certain types of felony convictions, whereas others allow a convicted felon to seek an exception if he or she can demonstrate reform or rehabilitation.
Unconstitutionality of Law is Challenged
The Pennsylvania law is being challenged by a lawsuit, Peake v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, filed in Harrisburg on behalf of five individuals who were denied employment in senior care facilities because of their felony convictions. One plaintiff in the lawsuit, Tyrone Peake, is a 52-year-old Philadelphia man who has been unable to find work in senior care facilities because of a felony conviction for attempted car theft more than 30 years ago. The suit contends that the law is arbitrary, overly broad, and consequently unconstitutional because it does not make distinctions based on the seriousness of the felony involved and because of its lifetime ban on hiring convicted felons.
A final court ruling that invalidates the law on constitutional grounds would obviously benefit many convicted felons who want to work in senior care facilities. It would also benefit the owners of the senior care facilities by broadening their pool of potential employees and allowing them to hire some individuals with felony convictions on their records. But it is equally clear that any such ruling could harm incapacitated older adults by removing a safeguard designed for their protection.
Older Adults Protective Service Act Provisions
The lawsuit may present a valid constitutional challenge to the law, but it is still pending in a trial court, and any ruling there will likely be followed by lengthy appeals. Meanwhile, the Older Adults Protective Service Act is still in effect, and both facility owners and administrators must still abide by its provisions. In particular, they must comply with provisions that:
- Require a criminal background check by the State Police or the FBI for all employees; and
- Prohibit the hiring or retention of any person who has been convicted of any of 28 enumerated felonies.
Violations of the law can result in criminal charges. Senior facility owners and administrators who willfully or intentionally fail to comply with the ban on hiring felons can be charged with third-degree misdemeanors, and, if convicted, assessed with a fine of $2500 or one year in prison for each violation.
Camden County Criminal Lawyer Jill R. Cohen Provides Zealous Defense for Criminal Charges in New Jersey
If you are a senior facility owner concerned about compliance with the Act, or an individual denied employment because of your criminal record, you should consult with Camden County criminal lawyer, Jill R. Cohen. The Camden County Criminal Law Offices of Jill R. Cohen provide zealous representation for people charged with criminal offenses in New Jersey. From her Westmont criminal law office, Jill R. Cohen, Esq. defends people in criminal court, municipal court and juvenile court throughout New Jersey and Philadelphia in the communities of Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Camden County, Gloucester County, Atlantic County, Salem County, Burlington County, Cumberland County, Mercer County, and Camden City.
Jill Cohen, criminal lawyer in Camden County has the extensive experience required to provide aggressive criminal defense to those accused of assault, DWI, sex crimes, robbery, traffic violations while protecting your constitutional rights. For a free consultation, call or submit an inquiry online.