Wed. Jun 16th, 2021

A nursing agency in the US has been ordered by a New York judge to shell out $1.56 million for threatening Filipino nurses it deployed to the United States with large fines if they prematurely left their work assignments.

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Fined was Prompt Nursing Employment Agency LLC, which operates as Sentosa Services. Presiding judge Nina Gershon found the recruitment firm to have violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) and broken its contract with threats to harm the nurses financially.

The case stemmed from a complaint filed by Rose Ann Paguirigan in 2017 on behalf of over 200 nurses and won the lawsuit back in 2019. The complainant also presented evidence that they were not paid the wages stipulated in their contracts, and were threatened with “serious harm” so they would not leave their work, and were “required to work in unsafe conditions with inadequate staffing.”

The judge said that nurses were entitled to compensatory damages in addition to the $1.56 million, both with pre-judgment interest at 9 percent per year. However, she ruled that the plaintiff might “recover compensatory damages for breach of contract or violations of the TVPA, but not both.” Furthermore, the judge denied the nurses’ request for a summary of award of equivalent punitive damages, and left that up for the jury to decide.Sentosa came under fire as it gave out contracts stipulating nurses who left their jobs prematurely or within a period of one year will have to pay $25,000 in liquidated damages. SOVEREIGNPH

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