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Hospital did not discriminate against nurses with restricted licenses

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A hospital did not violate the Americans with Disabilities Act when it refused to hire two nurses whose licenses were restricted because of past drug use, said an appeals court in upholding a lower court ruling.

According to Friday's ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in Elley A. Lopreato APRN RN; Susan M. Taylor, RN v. Select Specialty Hospital-Northern Kentucky, et al., Ms. Lopreato and Ms. Taylor had been terminated from their hospital positions for stealing drugs and had subsequently entered the Kentucky Board of Nursing's drug rehabilitation program.

After enrolling in the program, both nurses signed agreements that limited their ability to work long hours and to administer narcotics without supervision.

In November 2011 both applied for positions with Fort Thomas, Kentucky-based Select Hospital. Both were rejected, with their license restrictions cited as the reason.

The nurses filed suit, charging violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and seeking punitive damages. The U.S. District Court in Covington, Kentucky, granted Select's motion for summary judgment, and a three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit upheld the ruling.

“It is undisputed that Select's practice applies to all applicants who have or have had restrictions on their professional licenses, regardless of whether the applicant's license is or has been restricted because the applicant is disabled or because of some other reason,” said the ruling.

“Select's practice of denying employment to individuals whose licenses had been restricted because they participated in a drug rehabilitation program has not been shown as illegitimate or discriminatory,” said the panel, in affirming the lower court's ruling.