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Did a NY hospital violate human trafficking laws?

The New York State Nurses Association recently accused the Albany Medical Center of violating human trafficking laws. The group claims the hospital violated these laws when it recruited almost 600 Filipino nurses to the hospital. The group has provided evidence to show the hospital has used these illegal practices since 2002 in an effort to help address the nursing shortage in the state.

In an attempt to address the issue, New York State’s Nurses Association filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

What were the allegations?

According to the New York State Nurse Association, the hospital violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act when it used employment contracts with illegal provisions to sign on these medical professionals. The questionable clauses included a fine for those who resigned with a different hospital three years or less from beginning work with the Albany Medical Center and a provision that allegedly included a threat to report nurses for immigration violations if they breached the nursing contract.

What happened to the lawsuit?

Ultimately, a federal judge ruled the lawsuit could not move forward. The Albany Medical Center argued that the protections offered within the Trafficking Victims Protection Act are available to individual victims, not groups. As a result, since this suit was filed by the New York State Nurse Association, a group by definition, the case should be dismissed. The court agreed.

Does this mean the hospital won?

Not necessarily. Although they won the argument that the labor union could not move forward with the suit, it is possible another party could mount a successful attempt with a similar claim.