To state a procedural due process claim, the plaintiff must prove not simply that some government act injured her reputation; she must also prove she suffered some additional harm. This is know as the "stima plus" requirement. In Neil v. Fields, No. 04-3743 (8th Cir. Dec. 1, 2005), a nurse sued after her state's nurse-licensing board disclosed to a prospective employer that the nurse was under investigation for misconduct. After learning about the pending investigation (but without having learned about the nature of the allegations), the hospital refused to hire the nurse. The nurse sued the state licensing director under Section 1983, alleging a stigma-plus claim. A unanimous three-judge panel rejected the nurse's claim, and in the process, created a high hurdle for Section 1983 litigants to meet:
Injury to reputation alone is not a liberty interest protected under the Fourteenth Amendment. Accordingly, we have limited this claim to cases in which a public employer terminated an employee and published reasons for the discharge that seriously damaged the employee’s standing in the community or foreclosed other employment opportunities. We further limit this claim to government accusations "so damaging as to make it difficult or impossible for the employee to escape the stigma of those charges." [E.g., where the state makes allegations of "dishonesty, immorality, criminality, racism, and the like."] Here, Neal is not a terminated public employee, nor has she suffered the arguably analogous injury of license revocation. The Board has disclosed only the fact of an investigation, not the allegations being investigated (whether sufficiently stigmatizing or not). Thus, the complaint fails to state a procedural due process liberty interest claim as a matter of law.
Slio op. at 4-5 (citations omitted).