Empowering Nurses at the Bedside and in Business

Update on New York State Nurses Association Lawsuit

Not long ago I wrote about the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) filing a court claim against Montefiore Medical Center for failing to have proper PPE to reduce the risks of its member nurses contracting COVID-19.

The union specifically demanded that Montefiore Medical Center (1) increase the number of PPE available to nurses including respirators and gowns, (2) provide proper areas to put on and take off PPE so that disease free areas in the Center do not become contaminated, (3) make COVID testing available on demand as needed and (4) allow nurses to take steps to early statutorily-protected leave or accommodations to preserve their physical and emotional health.

Any time there are situation where an entity is seeking court intervention, just like the case that I presented last week with the strike at the University of Illinois-Chicago, the hospitals must keep patient care at the forefront.

This Court issued a ruling making patient care the top priority.  Just like the situation with the University of Illinois-Chicago nurses’ strike, the court ruled that, in the interest of patient care, not all of the nurses could go on strike.

In the Montefiore matter, the court was asked to dismiss the case stating that the resolution of the matter lay with the parties’ collective bargaining agreement and can be brought to the court only under limited circumstances.  The court ruled that it lacked the ability to grant the NYSNA’s injunction.

Although the court praised the parties saying they both had valid concerns but that lives may be in the balance.  It added the NYSNA deserves as much yet the court still ruled that it was unable to assist in this matter.

The court required mediation be conducted before it would rule on the matter but that mediation was not successful.  The court then suggested submitting the dispute to arbitration to resolve the dispute between the employer and the union regarding safety issues in the workplace.

Unfortunately, when arbitration is required in these types of agreements, the parties waive their right to a trial by a jury of their peers.  This is a Constitutional right.

In fact, there was a sexual harassment claim against two top Google executives.  These claims were repeated by a number of women alleging sexual harassment.

Unfortunately, all of these claims that were put through arbitration, were kept confidential.

Google did the right thing by removing forced arbitration clauses from the agreements so the truth can be told, and the employees retained their constitutional right to trial by a jury of their peers.  This came about as a result of a stage walk out and protest.

When you see arbitration agreements in things that you sign, beware and be careful to know that by signing them, you are waiving your right to a jury trial.

These agreements are prevalent in nursing home and nurse practitioner contracts.

Although the outcome was not what I would have liked to have seen for the nurses and NYSNA, because I do believe that nurses should have the right to proper equipment to protect them against COVID, the court had a difficult time evaluating the case because I truly believe the court wanted to help yet had to stay within the 4 corners of the agreement which required arbitration.

I am curious what you think about giving up your right to a trial by jury with these arbitration agreements.  I would love to hear your comments below.

1 Comment

  1. Linda Scheetz

    In arbitration, are you allowed to have an attorney present?
    The NYSNA and the nurses involved went through proper chanels but were not able to resolve the problem satisfactorily. Many nurses have succumbed to covid-19 due to lack of protective equipment. Why is a medical facility not held to the same standard as “Big Business”? When are Nurses’ lives going to be valued and revered as they should be for all the hard work and tough situations placed upon them?

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