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Chris Musillo on Nurse and Allied Health Immigration

Sentosacare Case Re-Emerges

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In 2006, eleven Philippine nurses employed at a Suffolk County, Long Island nursing home walked off their positions because of alleged bad working conditions. This mass resignation set off a chain of lawsuits that appeared to end in January 2009. A January 8, 2010 Associated Press report says that the nurses have now filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against their nursing home employer and the Suffolk County District Attorney's office.

Shortly after the walkout, the Suffolk County District Attorney indicted the nurses alleging that the mass resignation endangered some of the patients at the Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Care Center. A New York State appellate court eventually ruled that the resignations were lawful and ordered Suffolk County to stop prosecution. The appellate court also ruled that Suffolk County could not indict the nurses' attorney who had advised the nurses to quit.

Emboldened by their wins in the US court system, the nurses fought back and filed complaints against their Philippine recruiter, Sentosacare. This time, the nurses lost their cases, which had been filed with the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) and the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). Hearings were heard in the Philippine congress.

After losing in the Philippines, the nurses took their action to America and sued Sentosacare. In early 2008, that case too was dismissed. That dismissal cited a lack of evidence.

A nursing home attorney and the Suffolk County District Attorney didn't immediately comment about the most recent federal civil rights lawsuit.

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