New York hospital seeks dismissal of lawsuit alleging human trafficking law violations

Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center seeks to dismiss a union lawsuit accusing the hospital of federal human trafficking law violations linked to its program to recruit nurses from the Philippines to work in the hospital, according to the Albany Business Review.

The medical center's motion for dismissal — filed Jan. 8 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York — claims that the New York State Nurses Association's original lawsuit did not meet federal human trafficking law requirements for such a suit, according to the newspaper.

The motion also claims the union's lawsuit is based on "factually unsupported assumption."

The union filed the lawsuit in October, alleging that nearly 600 Filipino nurses the medical center has recruited since 2002 have been required to sign employment contracts with illegal clauses.

The following clauses violate the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the union said:

  • A fine of up to $20,000 if recruited nurses resign from the hospital within three years of their first day of work
  • Threatening to report nurses to federal immigration authorities and or/subjecting them to deportation if they breach the contract

The New York State Nurses Association is asking the court to declare these clauses unlawful and unenforceable.

Attorney Sanjeeve DeSoyza of Bond, Schoeneck and King in Albany writes in the motion for dismissal that the lawsuit does not meet federal human trafficking law requirements because the union is not an individual victim or attorney general, as required for claimants, according to the newspaper. 

The union's lawsuit also does not include individualized proof required under the federal human trafficking law, because nurses are not named in the suit, the attorney says in his motion.

"It is beyond belief that each and every recruited RN has continued to provide labor for Albany Med only because of the contractual obligations contained in their employment contracts, and not out of a desire to continue working for Albany Med, after they applied for a position with Albany Med, obtained a visa, and moved thousands of miles to voluntarily accept the position," the filing says, according to the Albany Business Review.

The New York State Nurses Association lawsuit and Albany Medical Center's motion for dismissal come as both parties conduct contract talks that have lasted more than a year. Nurses at the hospital unionized in 2018. A hearing on the motion for dismissal is scheduled for next month.

Read the full report here


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