Pinoy nurses lose battle anew vs recruitment agency


Pinoy nurses lose battle anew vs recruitment agency

Thursday, February 21, 2008 04:42 PM

Filipina nurses who left their employment in the United States suffered another legal debacle when the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) junked the illegal dismissal and underpayment charges filed by 31 Filipino nurses against a New York-based health care facility and a local recruitment agency.

In a 17-page decision, NLRC executive labor arbiter Fatima Jambaro-Franco even ruled the complainants violated the employment contracts when they resigned from their jobs. According to Franco, the complainants failed to comply with the required notice to their employers when they submitted their resignation letters.

Franco noted that under the contract, at least two weeks notice of intent to resign is required and under the Labor Code of the Philippines, at least one month notice is required.

“Either of the required notification was not observed by the 31 nurses, thus constituting a clear violation of the Labor Code,” Franco said.

Franco added that since all the complainants tendered their resignation letters, they cannot claim illegal dismissal, either actual or constructive. Concerning the complaint of underpayment, Franco pointed out that the pay slips of the 31 nurses showed that they were paid a salary rate of $24 even if their contract only states a minimum of $22.

“The pay slips further showed that the complainants were paid all their holiday overtime, overtime pay and vacation leaves, thus, negating their claims of non-payment,” the labor arbiter said.

Franco also ruled that the evidence on the fault or malice on the part of the respondents to warrant the award of damages or attorney’s fees in their favor were insufficient. The NLRC decision decision is the third consecutive case lost by the nurses against Sentosa Recruitment Agency in the Philippines. Last June 2006, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) lifted the suspension order against Sentosa while the US Supreme Court denied the complaints of the Filipino nurses.

- Mayen Jaymalin



490 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg/Med-Tele/SDU/ED.

nlrc junks nurses' case vs recruitment agency

[color=gray]by margaux ortiz

[color=gray]philippine daily inquirer

[color=gray]first posted 01:37:00 02/22/2008

the jan. 24 nlrc decision declared that under the contract, the complainants should have notified their employers of their intent to resign at least two weeks before the actual resignation.

the nlrc also noted that under the labor code of the philippines, a notice of at least one month was required.

arbiter franco said all of the complainants had tendered their resignation letters, "hence they cannot claim illegal dismissal, either actual or constructive."

on money claims, franco noted that the pay slips of the 31 nurses clearly showed that they had been paid a salary rate of $24 per hour even if their contracts only stated a minimum of $22. the labor arbiter also pointed out that one nurse was even paid $40 per hour.

more info on the case. i hope other nurses learn from this case.

especially because of

'new pinoy nurses losing sense of responsibility'

[color=gray]by sheila crisostomo

[color=gray]monday, february 18, 2008

. . . pna-us president rosario may mayor said they have been receiving reports that many filipino nurses in the us abruptly leave their jobs to move to other hospitals.

mayor cited for instance the complaint-letter that pna-us received last month from global service inc., a recruitment agency in the us.

the company, through lawyer reuben seguritan, claimed that many of their client-hospitals were complaining about "filipino nurses (who) break their employment agreements without a work related cause."

"they simply choose to move to different locations to be near friends and family. this seems to be becoming more rampant as other nurses learn that they can break their employment agreements with no serious repercussions," the letter stated.

the agency said the latest incident occurred on the third week of january, involving the heart of florida regional medical center in orlando, florida.

"one of the nurses resigned without notice. she stated that there were no work related issues, but she was going to move to texas to be closer to a sick aunt. this has been the consistent pattern. if it is not too late, this must be corrected before us hospitals will no longer accept filipino nurses," the letter further said.

mayor added that she has also been receiving similar complaints from hospitals in the philippines, regarding nurses who would just stop reporting for work because they have chosen to go abroad.

i can attest to some us hospitals not sponsoring for filipino nurses anymore after the filipino nurses they had recruited resigned en masse.

the familiar scenario now is a lot of california hospitals had stopped sponsoring, but would hire them if they had their green cards already.

so it's a win-win situation for the ones who breached their contracts, but a lose-lose situation for those still waiting for a petitioner.

a final note--this statement stands out: "filipino nurses (who) break their employment agreements without a work related cause."

i would not advise people to be creative in looking for a "work-related cause" to resign.

suzanne4, RN

26,410 Posts

And this is what I have been stating for sometime:

Please do not sign a contract if you are unable to complete it, or plan on leaving it as soon as you get to the US. This is making it hard, or I should say much harder for others from your country to now even be considered for a position, and one of the reasons why I am telling everyone to get work experience someplace first. Otherwise, many employers are not going to be considering anyone without the experience as they can get nurses from other countries that all have several years of experience and can be expected to complete a contract.

And the above posts, show that others have the same opinion as I do.

Please be considerate of others from your country before thinkiing of breaching a contract.


181 Posts

Also, please bear in mind that if you breach a contract without justification, you are liable for damages to your employer. A nurse from the Philippines is just as liable as a US citizen in a court of law in a civil breach of contract case. Simply put, your agency or hospital can file a breach of contract suit against you, even if you move to another state. Once the court finds you guilty of breach of contract, the court may then order you to pay damages. This is a 'judgement' against you and is filed with credit reporting agencies and is a part of the Public Record whenever your name is checked! This judgement can be in place for up to 10 years and is an immediate hit against your credit rating which can and will prevent you from renting a new apartment, opening a bank account or making any major purchase on credit. In addition, the judgement against you keeps piling up interest month after month! Until you pay it in full, you will owe the money and be hounded by credit collectors who can "purchase" your judgement and garnish your future salary and your bank account to collect from you.

So, it is not just your fellow Filipino nurses that you are harming, it is your own good name and credit rating which follows you THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!! Be aware that contracts are taken very seriously by the courts in the USA.



490 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg/Med-Tele/SDU/ED.

there had been a lot of smoke and mirrors on this case, so i'm sharing this news article which objectively summarized the facts so far.

doj junks pinoy nurses' suit vs us care firm


the [philippine] doj dismissed the case filed by 13 of 38 filipino nurses who have migrated in the us against officials of sentosa recruitment agency in the philippines and sentosa care llc of new york due to insufficiency of evidence.

thirteen filipino nurses . . . accused sentosa officials bent philipson, francis luyun and oliva serduar of violating . . . the labor code of the philippines, for committing illegal recruitment by publishing a notice of employment for work in the us that carried false information on what the job entailed and the monetary compensation it would provide.

according to the nurses, sentosa had altered or substituted the stipulations in the employment contracts they signed with the firm, which was approved and verified by the department of labor and employment in manila.

. . .

the doj said by finding the nurses' allegation of sentosa's having altered the contract baseless, the nurses in effect were guilty of the firm's accusation against them of having breached the stipulations of the contract and therefore could face a civil suit.

a lot of people think that it should have been a civil case, not a criminal case.

the first legal blow they suffered was the case they filed with the philippine overseas employment administration (poea) against sentosa for its alleged violation of recruitment rules and regulations . . .

this was dismissed for utter lack of merit sept. 4 last year.

last jan. 24, the national labor relations commission (nlrc) also dismissed the cases the nurses filed against the manila-based agency and its us principals for alleged illegal dismissal, non-payment and underpayment of salaries and other money claims.

the nlrc also ruled that the nurses were guilty of not observing the labor requirement of issuing a notice of resignation to their employer when they left their workplace unceremoniously, thus putting themselves in violation of the contract they forged with sentosa and the labor code o the philippines.

the us doj's civil rights division had also dismissed a case filed by the nurses against sentosa aug. 31 last year for alleged discrimination on the ground of insufficient evidence.

the supreme court of new york had also granted a motion filed by sentosa to dismiss the counterclaims of the nurses against the company.

. . . the district attorney of suffolk county in new york ruled for the indictment of 10 of the nurses and atty. vinluan for violation of penal laws after a grand jury found them guilty of 10 counts of charges of sixth degree conspiracy; two counts of criminal solicitation in the fifth degree; three counts of endangering the welfare of a child; and four counts of endangering the welfare of a disabled person.

another order from the same court also denied the motion to dismiss the criminal indictment of atty. vinluan sept. 28 last year.

i am proud that this clear, concise, objective piece of reporting was done by a philippine news agency.

i find the articles (which are heavily spread and quoted by various other news agencies) biased, insinuating that the findings by us courts, and the poea decision, were "influenced" by political machinations and campaign fundings.

with all these decisions being against the complainants, it gives food for thought on who is the real victim here.

personally i don't think all these us and philippine courts can be "politically influenced."

if you google the court findings on this case, especially the complainants' statements, it will change your view.

the claims that the nurses had been cleared...if you delve deeper into it, the findings were that the nurses did not commit "patient abandonment," but could have commited "employer abandonment"--a fact glossed over by a lot of reporters.

all these cases mean money is being wasted on unsubstantiated allegations--the reason why a lot of these agencies do not go after contract breachers (see 'new pinoy nurses losing sense of responsibility').

the downside, of course, is that agencies will be hesitant to hire filipino nurses in the future--good for the ones who have their green cards, bad for the nurses still in the philippines.

i request filipino nurses to study the case first before jumping into the bandwagon defending the "poor, helpless, victimized" nurses.

if sentosa loses this case, sentosa and other agencies might stop hiring in the philippines--and as i mentioned in my other posts, other asian countries are ramping up production of nurses for us hospitals. an increasing number of european nurses are applying for jobs in us hospitals.

if sentosa wins the case, it is still a pyrrhic victory, as the legal fees for all these cases (in the us and the philippines) must be huge by now. what will happen to the nurses being petitioned by this agency? a lot of nurses working under sentosa are happy--as reported in an abs-cbn article.

the case stemmed from allegations made by the nurses in 2006 against sentosa, which they sued for alleged breach of contract.

the root of it all.

note that there is no mention of working conditions, or of unsafe nurse-patient ratio.

these allegations were tacked on later.


490 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg/Med-Tele/SDU/ED.

doj dismisses nurses' illegal recruitment case vs sentosa

"it is now clear that the complainants who filed various cases against sentosa officials were ill-advised and misled by some unscrupulous persons," said sentosa recruitment agency legal counsel ibaro relamida jr. of the doj's resolution.

"these cases would have been avoided if an investigation was conducted in new york, but no such investigation or hearing was ever conducted in new york and sentosa's side was never heard," relamida added.

it now appears that the complainants filed multiple cases against sentosa in new york, us, and philippine courts...and these cases are being found in favor of sentosa one by one.

the question is what happens when all legal avenues are exhausted.

what a waste of money.

i just hope sentosa does not go under because of all these legal fees--otherwise some 450 nurses in the process of being petitioned will have to look for another agency.


490 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg/Med-Tele/SDU/ED.

sentosa finally speaks up on the rulings...

justice dismisses nurses' complaint against sentosa

although this is a clear victory of sentosa after the philippine overseas employment administration, national labor relations commission and [philippine] justice department cleared them of any wrongdoing, not to mention a similar dismissal by us justice department on the matter, bent philipson, chief operating officer of sentosa new york and one of the respondents in the justice's case here, said that "it is sad to say that while sentosa is doing its best to give the nurses and their families a chance to be immigrants to the united states, the nurses themselves imputed unfounded, malicious and perjurious allegations which greatly damaged sentosa's name, reputation and credibility.

"it is unfortunate, and it appears that the complainants have been misled and ill-advised by others who would take advantage of them with a promise that they can get out of their contracts by using the pretext of alleged misrepresentation, etc. as evidenced by the cases filed vs .sentosa and earn higher compensation from other employers whom they intended to transfer to but did not spend a single penny in bringing them from the philippines to new york. records would show many of the nurses who resigned and abandoned sentosa moved and united with their relatives in california, which somehow shows their real intention in going to us," philipson said.

this is sentosa's side on why the nurses resigned.


490 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg/Med-Tele/SDU/ED.

nurses set to appeal [philippine] doj decision on sentosa

some of the nurses allegedly duped by sentosa recruitment agency into taking on jobs at a retirement facility said they would appeal the department of justice ruling dismissing illegal recruitment charges they filed against a recruitment agency and its foreign counterpart in the us.

rey rivera, one of the nurses, said in an e-mail message to "there is something more to this (dismissal) than meets the eye."

"it seems this agency has a strong backer," he added in tagalog, referring to sentosa recruitment which allegedly has powerful backers in the philippine overseas employment administration (poea).

tess pascual also said in another e-mail that "it's very obvious that the owner is very influential."

"twice case dismissed means the owner is a big man. with all these complaints from these poor nurses, still the court has the nerve to dismiss the case? a very inhuman act for our ofws. they are all monsters, that's all i could say," she said.

again, the insinuation that politics influenced the decision, if the decision is unfavorable to them.

the [philippine] doj, however, said there were "no substantive alterations in the employment contracts signed by the complainants to sustain the findings of illegal recruitment against the respondents." doj also said that what happened "may warrant an action which is civil in nature, but definitely, not a criminal action."

the question is, why are the avalon 10 adamant in chasing the illegal recruitment case?

the labor code of the philippines

presidential decree no. 442, as amended

gives us the answer.

art. 38. illegal recruitment.

(b) illegal recruitment when committed by a syndicate or in large scale shall be considered an offense involving economic sabotage and shall be penalized in accordance with article 39 hereof.

illegal recruitment is deemed committed by a syndicate if carried out by a group of three (3) or more persons conspiring and/or confederating with one another in carrying out any unlawful or illegal transaction, enterprise or scheme defined under the first paragraph hereof. illegal recruitment is deemed committed in large scale if committed against three (3) or more persons individually or as a group.

art. 39. penalties.

(a) the penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of one hundred thousand pesos (p100,000.00) shall be imposed if illegal recruitment constitutes economic sabotage . . .

there we have it.

using the (imperfect) walmart analogy, after the shoplifters get caught, the shoplifters filed different cases against walmart, tried to burn down (shut down) walmart, and want the walmart owners sentenced to life imprisonment.

i suggest the 450 nurses under petition by sentosa keep an eye on this case, as they may wake up one day and realize that they'll have to look for another petitioner.


490 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg/Med-Tele/SDU/ED.

no problems with most of sentosa nurses

"how can 1,000 other filipino nurses be wrong and only 27 of them be right?" the group's spokesman and legal counsel asked the times.

. . .

the group's head, bent philipson, in denying the sentosa 27's claims said at the time, ". . . all contracts and documents submitted by these nurses at the us embassy in manila prior to the issuance of their immigrant visas were fully explained to them by the foreign employers."

. . .

the us district attorney saw this incident as an "organized activity of the sentosa 27++ and their lawyer felix vinluan, as a result, the nurses and their lawyer were indicted because they put to risk the lives of pediatric and frail elderly patients. in our view, this is a criminal offense punishable by law."

later, understanding that they were misled, some nurses have retracted and apologized for their action, relamide said.

. . .

relamide said the sentosa 27++ and their lawyers, "in an unprecedented exercise of legal forum shopping filed various cases against sentosa group and their sentosa recruitment agency in the united states and in the philippines."

the nurses said they were "all saddened by your privileged speech at the philippine senate last september 4, 2006, wherein you attacked [former] presidential chief of staff michael defensor and in the process crucified sentosacare llc and its local counterpart sentosa recruitment agency without the benefit of looking into the root cause of the present controversy."

the nurses protested senator pimentel's speech, having presented as "gospel truth the unsubstantiated claim made by the group of elmer jacinto, whom you now painted as a hero among filipino nurses working abroad. on the contrary, elmer jacinto and his group is the new breed of filipino nurses who want to get higher salaries without even proving their worth as true and well-respected filipino nurses. in reality, it was jacinto and his group who turned their backs on their contracts in their desire to join other medical institutions."

the letter writers said they are "living proof" that sentosa takes "good care of us in the same manner that we showed to sentosa that we are the real filipino nurses who are not only professional medical workers, but also devoted to protect and safeguard the welfare of american patients."

they call jacinto and his allied nurses "renegades" who "instantaneously abandoned their posts in various facilities" and "endangered the lives of the frail elderly and pediatric patients who were entrusted to their care."

they had other unflattering things to say about jacinto and the rest of the 27 who they said "were after higher pay without taking into consideration the manpower, time and financial resources that sentosa invested to bring them in to new york."

relamida said the sentosa group's foreign employers or principals assist applicants in all aspects of gaining permanent resident status, obtaining social security numbers and limited permits. sentosa even provides free airfare from manila to new york as well as temporary housing.

res ipsa loquitor.


490 Posts

Specializes in Med/Surg/Med-Tele/SDU/ED.

as posted here for a long time, stated another way.

long story short: don't sign contracts if you're not serious about them.

it's not easy to break contracts, it should not be easy breaking contracts without a valid reason.

sentosa case common for pinoy nurses

. . . instances of pinoy nurses abandoning their employers are not uncommon.

lawyer ibaro relamide . . . before the sentosa 27++ "acted up en masse," the sentosa group . . . had already experienced individual cases of nurses who would resign because they want to go to california or to another state to be with their friends and cousins. but, he said, the sentosa group just turned a blind eye to these contract-breakers out of compassion and to avert conflict.

he said the sentosa group and other recruitment agencies and hospital-employers are very familiar with these types of incidents.

sound familiar?

relamide said, "the nursing leadership must correct this. if more and more incidents like this happen, and people believe the baseless accusations made by the sentosa 27++ filipino nurses--despite their being proved in the courts to be at fault because we have not done anything wrong to them--the image of all filipino nurses will become so bad in the united states."

"the time will come when us hospitals will not want to accept filipino nurses," he added. "remember, indian, pakistani and latin american nurses and health caregivers are also being given visas by the us government."

"it is understandable that hometown sentiment over the plight of the nurses is written about, but what had been inadvertently deemphasized is the simple fact that what had happened to these nurses were of their own doing," relamida said.

he added that "the inordinate focus and emotional support given to the complaints filed by the sentosa 27++ against the sentosa group--which had all been judged and resolved in favor of the group by various courts and government agencies in the united states and here in manila--will not be good for the filipino nurses in the long run."

"it makes people forget that the complaints the sentosa 27++ filed and lost were their initiatives," relamide said. "their own behavior, their acts of breaching their contracts and making false accusations against us caused their defeat in the courts. it is their own fault that now 10 of them and their lawyer face a grand jury trial over a criminal indictment filed by the state of new york."

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