US hospital to repay Filipinos fined for leaving job early

OPERATORS of an Albany hospital have agreed to stop levying fines on nurses recruited from the Philippines and other countries if they left their jobs within three years and return US$90,000 (RM370,000) to seven former nurses, New York Attorney-General Letitia James announced.

The legal agreement ends contractual “repayment” fees for international nurse recruits at Albany Medical Centre, which obligated them to pay up to US$20,000 (RM82,000) if they resigned or were fired before the end of their three-year employment commitment.

Nurses who didn’t comply faced the threat of legal action or being reported to immigration authorities, according to court papers.

The attorney-general’s office argued that the contract provision under permanent visa arrangements violated the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

“By forcing its employees to choose between paying outrageous sums to leave their jobs, or facing immigration authorities, Albany Med violated their rights as workers and as individuals,” James said in a prepared release on Thursday.

Albany Med Health System disputed the AG’s findings.

They agreed to remove the provision from employment contracts and to repay the seven nurses solely to avoid litigation costs, according to court papers.

In an emailed statement, Albany Med said they value all their nurses and are proud of our efforts to recruit and support nurses from the Philippines.

“We do not agree with the Attorney-General’s characterisation of the facts in this case, and we do not believe that Albany Med did anything wrong,” the statement said, adding that it is “not worth our time, effort or expense to fight these politically motivated allegations”.

James issued a subpoena in February 2020 after the matter was referred to her office by the New York State Nurses Association, which had sued the hospital the previous year over the provision. — AP

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