New York union can't sue hospital over alleged violation of human trafficking law, court rules

A federal judge has ruled a New York union cannot sue Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center for alleged trafficking law violations related to its program to recruit nurses from the Philippines to work in the hospital, reports Bloomberg Law.

The New York State Nurses Association sued Albany Medical Center in October, alleging nearly 600 Filipino nurses the hospital recruited since 2002 were required to sign employment contracts with illegal clauses that violate the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

The following clauses are illegal, 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 their contract

The union claims the clauses violate the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York to declare these clauses unlawful and unenforceable.

Albany Medical Center filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in January, arguing that the law only permits individual victims and state attorneys general —  not labor unions — to bring actions for civil remedies or seek injunctive relief under the human trafficking law.

On July 15, the court agreed, writing: "Despite the fact that plaintiff may have associational standing to represent the recruited nurses, the court finds that the plain language of the statute does not give plaintiff, as a union, power to civilly enforce the TVPA as pled. Accordingly, the court must dismiss plaintiff's complaint for failure to state a cause of action."

The court said the union may file an amended complaint.

Becker's has reached out to the union and hospital and will post additional information if available.


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