Judge orders U.S. nursing agency to pay $1.56M for trafficking Filipino nurses
NEW YORK – A New York federal judge on Tuesday ordered a nursing agency to pay $1.56 million plus interest, for threatening the nurses they recruited from the Philippines with large fines if they left their jobs early.
The court previously found that the Prompt Nursing Employment Agency LLC, doing business as Sentosa Services, had violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and broken their contract by threatening to seriously harm the nurses financially if they left prematurely.
Judge Nina Gershon of the Brooklyn-based U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday decided that the class of nurses was entitled to compensatory damages for that breach of contract. She awarded $1.56 million for the TVPA violations, both with pre-judgment interest at 9% per year.
Sentosa recruited the nurses in the Philippines as nursing home staff in New York state. Their contracts stated that they must pay $25,000 if they left their positions before the end of their first year.
The court previously ruled that Sentosa violated the trafficking victims act because the nurses were forced to remain in the agency’s employ to avoid repercussions and charges they wouldn’t be able to pay.
Howley Law Firm and Law Offices of John Howley represented the nurses. Hahn Eisenberger PLLC and Stahl and Zelmanovitz represented the defendants.
The case is Paguirigan v. Prompt Nursing Employment Agency LLC, E.D.N.Y., No. 17-cv-1302, 6/1/21.