Nurse accuses staffing agency of coercing foreign employees to work under unsafe conditions

An immigrant nurse who came to the U.S. from the Philippines has filed a lawsuit over a contract with his former employer that he said punishes those who quit their jobs, according to court documents.

Benzor Shem Vidal filed the lawsuit Sept. 16 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.

He alleges that after entering the U.S. this year on a visa sponsored by his former employer, New York City-based Advanced Care Staffing, he "confronted grueling and unsafe working conditions that threatened his nursing license — including unmanageable patient loads of more than 40 patients at a time."

The lawsuit states that Mr. Vidal was "terrified to resign" and "knew that his contract with Advanced Care Staffing purported to allow the company to pursue legal action against him, with potentially ruinous financial consequences, if he decided to terminate his employment."

Mr. Vidal decided to quit his job after months working for the company. His lawsuit says Advanced Care Staffing "characterized his termination as a 'breach of contract,' and — after sending him a letter threatening legal action in which it would seek to recover tens of thousands of dollars and all of its attorney's fees and arbitration costs if he did not return to his employment — Advanced Care Staffing filed a demand for arbitration before the American Arbitration Association, pursuing its purported damages, its attorney's fees and the costs of arbitration."

Mr. Vidal alleges that the arbitration provision his former employer seeks to enforce against him is illegal and unenforceable. 

Advanced Care Staffing did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Bloomberg. Becker's has also reached out to Advanced Care Staffing and will update the story if a comment is received. 

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