Expunged Record Cost Prison Nurse, She Says

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – The nation’s largest provider of medical services to prisons fired a nurse because a background check revealed an expunged record for a 30-year-old arrest on charges she briefly faced as a juvenile, she claims in court.
     Though the plaintiff identifies herself in the July 8 complaint, filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Courthouse News has redacted this information because of the sensitive nature of the claims.
     Philadelphia allegedly recommended that Corizon fire the woman last year because a background check revealed her 30-year-old juvenile arrest record.
     The plaintiff notes that the charges against her were dismissed one year after they were filed and that the courts expunged her record in 2010.
     Corizon had hired the woman in June 2014, contingent upon her successful completion of a background check, but she worked for Corizon’s predecessor, Prison Health Services, as a registered nurse from 1998 to 2004, according to the complaint.
     The plaintiff notes that she “satisfactorily performed the duties of her job” at a prison worksite without incident during in the earlier stint.
     Because of the 2014 background check’s results, however, Philadelphia allegedly refused to provide her with the security clearance necessary to work in a prison.
     The plaintiff notes that the Pennsylvania State Police – the entity responsible for criminal justice pre-hiring background checks – showed no records of any arrests or convictions for her.
     Her nine-page lawsuit accuses Corizon Health of constitutional violations and discrimination, claiming that the practice of barring employment based on criminal records has “a disparate impact based on race.”
     The plaintiff cites studies showing that “criminal record exclusions” particularly affect black applicans, who are “arrested in numbers disproportionate to their representation in the general population.”
     “Studies show that [people] who have not had a criminal history in seven years have low recidivism rates,” the complaint says, adding that these individuals are no more likely to be criminally charged than a person with no criminal history whatsoever.
     The plaintiff seeks punitive damages from Corizon for alleged violations of the Pennsylvania Constitution and the Pennsylvania Criminal Record History Information Act.
     Philadelphia meanwhile violated state law by “aiding and abetting” Corizon’s unlawful termination of the plaintiff by virtue of denying her a prison security clearance and recommending she be fired, according to the complaint.
     Corizon declined to comment on personnel issues, but a representative for the company noted that its human-resource protocols dictate that, “if an individual we are considering for employment does not receive the security clearance required to work in our client’s facility, we cannot complete the hire.”
     “Security clearances for Corizon Health staff working at Philadelphia correctional facilities are provided by the Philadelphia Prison System, not Corizon,” the representative added.
     Several attempts at leaving a message with the Philadelphia Prison System, requesting comment on the lawsuit, were not successful.
     Robert Vance Jr. represents the woman suing Philadelphia and Corizon.

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