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Breaching a Travel Contract

Travel   (553 Views | 8 Replies)
by GuestRN2020 GuestRN2020 (New) New Nurse

GuestRN2020 has 10 years experience and specializes in Telemetry, SDU.

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I am currently on assignment with OGP international with 1.5 years remaining in my contract. However, because of the current Covid-19 situation, feeling of isolation, unsafe practices in the hospital, etc. I am thinking of cancelling the contract from my end. Has anyone ever done this? Is the 45,000 usd payment for breaching the contract enforceable in California? I would take any personal, professional, or legal advice anyone might have. Currently, I am very desperate to go home and be with my family as I am living in the US by myself.

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If you are thinking of doing this, you really should discuss this with a contract or labor lawyer prior to doing so.

Best wishes.

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GuestRN2020 has 10 years experience and specializes in Telemetry, SDU.

5 Posts; 54 Profile Views

5 minutes ago, chare said:

If you are thinking of doing this, you really should discuss this with a contract or labor lawyer prior to doing so.

Best wishes.

I have spoken to a lawyer and he did come up with possible solutions but we have very limited legal precedents to compare my case to. And because my lawyer is involved, when I tried reaching out to OGP about my concerns about unsafe practices (no testing for potential exposures, reusing of PPEs, combining PUIs and Covid-19 positive patients in patient assignment, etc) in the hospital where I'm currently assigned, they wouldn't talk to me anymore.

I was hoping someone with a similar case/ experience can help us out while we are in the process of communicating with OGP.

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3 Followers; 1 Article; 5,436 Posts; 45,948 Profile Views

OGP has had these severe contractual penalties for years. Impossible to enforce against a foreign national who is back home and you would not be flagged if you re-enter the US. In fact, pretty hard to enforce even if you remained in California. They would have to file a civil suit and "serve" you - actually find you to physically give you a subpoena to appear in court. Then you would have to appear in court if you so decided. If you don't appear, they could have an arrest warrant to force you appear. Again, they would have to find you. It is possible to get a conviction (no jail in a civil suit) without your presence, but not only would they have to locate you, find financial assets to attach, and get a court order allowing them to seize them. This last sequence is difficult and expensive, and seldom happens, and do you even have assets worth $45,000? It is unlikely they will even file a lawsuit against you if you simply stop talking to them. Get a new cell number and change your address or go home.

You are presumably here on a green card and can only work for OGP. Some 15 years ago, I had an online conversation with an Australian nurse with OGP - I think the penalty for canceling then was $25,000. Her green card actually allowed her to work freely and she wanted to make more money with other travel companies than OGP's contract paid. I suggested she drop all contact with OGP and do what she wanted. Which she did without further issues.

Mind you, I'm not a lawyer and that story is anecdotal. You are welcome to check in with a labor lawyer for more information, but you really don't want to engage OGP. That will just be a huge and expensive mess for you. If you want to quit, just cut off all contact with OGP and go away. Those from other countries fear our legal system, but honestly, you have far less to fear from our legal system than US citizens. The civil court system cannot interact with immigration to find you or to deny you entry.

Companies like OGP who recruit foreign nationals to work here do have legitimate expenses incurred in helping you get a US license and work permits and several plane fares. Probably on the order of $10,000 to $15,000 for every successful placement (which includes many unsuccessful placements) and includes commissions for your home country recruiter. Long process right? However, $45,000 is far more than those costs. The major reason to have those penalties in the contract is to scare you into fulfilling the contract. And it works! Works in regular travel contracts as well. And in most cases my advice is you can do anything for 13 weeks and finish the contract. But a year and a half of below market wages is kind of crazy. Go home. Nothing bad will happen. You cannot be extradited in a civil lawsuit nor can they force payment from you overseas.

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Oh, I looked up my correspondence from the UK (it turns out) nurse. 2006 and $15,000 cancellation penalty. OGP used a strategy on her that was illegal, but unfortunately not uncommon here. They handed her contractual "debt" over to a collection agency without going through a legal process. The way this generally works is that the collection agency pays a discounted amount for this "debt" and can pursue you forever. Cheap for OGP and sometimes a winning strategy. It means your credit report has a huge ding on it, and it may be difficult to say buy a house here or get a credit card even. Not a big deal unless you need good credit here, but can scare Americans (and foolish foreigners) into actually paying the penalty as they believe it carries the force of law with it.

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GuestRN2020 has 10 years experience and specializes in Telemetry, SDU.

5 Posts; 54 Profile Views

11 minutes ago, NedRN said:

OGP has had these severe contractual penalties for years. Impossible to enforce against a foreign national who is back home and you would not be flagged if you re-enter the US. In fact, pretty hard to enforce even if you remained in California. They would have to file a civil suit and "serve" you - actually find you to physically give you a subpoena to appear in court. Then you would have to appear in court if you so decided. If you don't appear, they could have an arrest warrant to force you appear. Again, they would have to find you. It is possible to get a conviction (no jail in a civil suit) without your presence, but not only would they have to locate you, find financial assets to attach, and get a court order allowing them to seize them. This last sequence is difficult and expensive, and seldom happens, and do you even have assets worth $45,000? It is unlikely they will even file a lawsuit against you if you simply stop talking to them. Get a new cell number and change your address or go home.

You are presumably here on a green card and can only work for OGP. Some 15 years ago, I had an online conversation with an Australian nurse with OGP - I think the penalty for canceling then was $25,000. Her green card actually allowed her to work freely and she wanted to make more money with other travel companies than OGP's contract paid. I suggested she drop all contact with OGP and do what she wanted. Which she did without further issues.

Mind you, I'm not a lawyer and that story is anecdotal. You are welcome to check in with a labor lawyer for more information, but you really don't want to engage OGP. That will just be a huge and expensive mess for you. If you want to quit, just cut off all contact with OGP and go away. Those from other countries fear our legal system, but honestly, you have far less to fear from our legal system than US citizens. The civil court system cannot interact with immigration to find you or to deny you entry.

Companies like OGP who recruit foreign nationals to work here do have legitimate expenses incurred in helping you get a US license and work permits and several plane fares. Probably on the order of $10,000 to $15,000 for every successful placement (which includes many unsuccessful placements) and includes commissions for your home country recruiter. Long process right? However, $45,000 is far more than those costs. The major reason to have those penalties in the contract is to scare you into fulfilling the contract. And it works! Works in regular travel contracts as well. And in most cases my advice is you can do anything for 13 weeks and finish the contract. But a year and a half of below market wages is kind of crazy. Go home. Nothing bad will happen. You cannot be extradited in a civil lawsuit nor can they force payment from you overseas.

Thank you, this is one of the considerations but also a last resort, just waiting on the travel restrictions to be lifted and then we can decide what the best course of action is. In the meantime we are hoping to negotiate and avoid future litigation.

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GuestRN2020 has 10 years experience and specializes in Telemetry, SDU.

5 Posts; 54 Profile Views

@NedRN You really think engaging is a bad idea? I understand the logic and everything you explained so far. But just really scared of being chased by anyone including the law in the future. To be honest I do not have 45000 usd. I used up all my savings (10K-15K) to start a life here, and all the expenses have started piling up since I got here last year including almost 5K worth of medical bills. But with this whole covid situation and being unsafe at work, getting sick or dying here alone is almost close to a scary reality. 

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3 Followers; 1 Article; 5,436 Posts; 45,948 Profile Views

Yup, don't negotiate, don't engage. In this kind of situation, it will never benefit you. On ordinary travel contracts, most of the time the best course of action is just to finish them. Sometimes, depending on the agency, you can at least attempt to negotiate. Not with OGP. They do this many times a year and have a whole battle plan. If you feel like the best thing for you is quit, your best course of action is to vanish.

Let me just warn you about one bad thing that could happen. You are getting direct deposit right? It is completely corrupt, but some agencies will withhold your last check, and even reverse your last deposit for a "mistake" even though it was no mistake. We have laws here against such actions, but unfortunately the person holding the money wins as now the other party will have to engage in expensive legal action against them. Both this and dinging your credit report are illegal and corrupt in trying to recover a contractual damage, but does happen and there isn't much you can do about it. I certainly wouldn't put it past OGP. But a well timed of closing your bank account in cash could save you some hassle.

As you are in California, there are a lot of paycheck protections and a lot of law firms that specialize in compensation recovery. So if your paycheck is withheld, you may be able to get it back. OGP will not be able to tie your pay recovery to a separate civil court action about contractual damages.

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GuestRN2020 has 10 years experience and specializes in Telemetry, SDU.

5 Posts; 54 Profile Views

Thank you so much @NedRN for all your help!

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