Unfairly Barred for Life from Working as a Nurse

April 03, 2013

R.V. is a certified nurse aid who worked in a nursing home from 2001 until 2009. In 2009 the Department of Community Health informed R.V. that she was barred for the rest of her life from working in long-term care, thereby forcing R.V. to give up her career.

The reason given was that almost a decade earlier R.V. had participated in a diversion program for youthful offenders after altering the quantity on a prescription for painkillers she was receiving for tooth pain. R.V. had completed the diversion program, under which she had been promised that if she completed probation, her record would be sealed and she would not have any other consequences.

In 2012 the ACLU of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit so that R.V. could return to work. We argued that the state reneged on the plea agreement it made with R.V., and that R.V. was being denied equal protection of the laws because she was barred from her profession for life while other individuals with much more serious convictions (such as homicide, torture or criminal sexual conduct) are not barred, or are barred for much shorter periods.

The case settled in March 2013 after the state agreed to allow R.V. and others like her to return to nursing.

(R.V. v. Hilfinger; ACLU Attorney Miriam Aukerman.)