Filipino Health Workers Lose Bias Suit

Filipino Express, News Feature, Ted Reyes Posted: Aug 03, 2009

NEW YORK-A federal judged handed 26 Filipino health care workers a big setback in their quest for justice by junking a racial discrimination case that they filed against their former employer Sentosa Care.

In the lawsuit, the workers claimed that they were forced to quit their jobs at various nursing homes and found difficulty getting new facilities to hire them because of prejudice against them for being non-American citizens.

Dennis Feliciano, the lawyer for the health workers, maintained that all of them were legal immigrants and could work legally in the United States, and to deny them equal opportunity to work based on immigration status is unjust.
However, the federal judge did not see any merits in the case, and therefore dismissed it.

Feliciano also said he was disappointed that the ruling was made without a hearing, and that he was considering an appeal.
office address. "I do think the judge heard our strongest arguments," Feliciano added.

The health workers, consisting of nurses and physical therapists, in 2006 walked out from their jobs in protest of what they described as very poor working conditions. Their employer countered with a $50-million damage suit against 10 nurses and their lawyer Felix Vinluan for breach of contract, conspiracy, and child endangerment, arguing that the workers were influenced by their lawyer to abandon their duties thereby endangering their patients.

The incident caused an international uproar and it even involved high-ranking public officials in New York and in the Philippines.

Recently, a New York court ruled to stop the criminal prosecution of the nurses in Suffolk county, maintaining that they resigned after their shifts ended, thus rendering speculative the accusation that by quitting they endangered the lives of their patients, including children.
The court also said the nurses had the constitutional right to be free from involuntary service.

High from this legal victory, the health workers then filed several more lawsuits, including some in the Philippines against their former employer, claiming recruitment violations; but all of these did not prosper in court.

There is another civil case pending in Nassau county and is expected to be decided on his year. This case, filed by Sentosa and other facilities against the health workers, maintains that the workers breached their contracts with their employers and thus are liable in civil court.

With reports from AP and Newsday


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