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Press Release: Crucial Victory in National Class Action Case Against Health Carousel LLC

Last week, the federal district court in the Southern District of Ohio ruled that claims against Health Carousel LLC for trafficking, racketeering, and minimum wage violations, filed jointly by Towards Justice, Nichols Kaster, Donati Law PLLC, Gupta Wessler, and Barkan Meizlish, LLP could proceed.

The case is brought on behalf of migrant nurses and physical therapists who have worked across the country and allege that Health Carousel LLC, a large national healthcare staffing agency, brought them to the United States and trapped them in unfair contracts and unsafe working conditions.

They allege the company required them to work for three years or 6,240 total hours. Once in the United States, they say the company avoided counting many of their hours, moved them to other states without notice, prohibited them from talking about their work, and then fined them $20,000 if they left their contracts.

One of the plaintiffs, Jerlin Amistoso, was a physical therapist who came to Colorado from the Philippines. She claims that after she arrived in the United States she was forced to attend a three-month orientation without pay and to work long hours for about half of what her coworkers were paid.

When her facility downsized in 2020, while Amistoso had a young baby at home, Health Carousel told her that she had to leave Colorado to go to another assignment, and if she refused that she’d have to pay $20,000 to Health Carousel due to a “stay or pay” clause in the fine print of her contract.

The lawsuit against Health Carousel LLC began in 2020, and currently alleges that this is a form of human trafficking, racketerring, and also a minimum wage violation. Health Carousel asked the Court to dismiss the lawsuit, but last week, the Court denied Health Carousel’s motion, allowing the nationwide proposed class action to move forward on behalf of workers across the country.

“This is like an employer saying, ‘For the privilege of this job, YOU have to pay ME.’ This is a minimum wage violation. And yet, we see it all the time,” said David Seligman, Executive Director of Towards Justice.

He continued, “If you tell somebody that when they leave a job, they owe you money, and when the monetary threat is a threat of serious harm, that’s trafficking.”

Another of the plaintiffs’ counsel, Anna Prakash, a partner at the law firm of Nichols Kaster in Minneapolis stated, “That our brave clients are now able to move forward with their claims demonstrates that the laws protecting workers from forced labor, exploitation, and subminimum wages are strong, broad, and can play a tremendous role in curbing unfair and harmful practices. We look forward to moving through the discovery phase of this case and continue to fight alongside this essential workforce.”

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