Lawsuits Allege Nurse Wage Conspiracies
Nurses in four cities on Tuesday filed lawsuits alleging that more than 17 hospitals conspired to maintain artificially low wages, the Wall Street Journal reports. Several thousand nurses in each city -- Albany, N.Y.; Chicago; Memphis, Tenn.; and San Antonio -- could be eligible to participate if class-action status is granted, according to Daniel Small, a Washington, D.C., attorney at the firm that filed the suits on behalf of the nurses (Maher, Wall Street Journal, 6/21).
Small said the firm's investigation, which was assisted by the Service Employees International Union, uncovered cases in which human resources officials from different hospitals talked with each other over the phone or at meetings to share salary information and agreed not to outbid one another to recruit nurses (Greenhouse, New York Times, 6/21). Small said, "The hospitals have reached an understanding that they will use this information not to compete" (Dixon, Boston Globe, 6/21).
Lawyers for the nurses said wages had been depressed by hundreds of millions of dollars in Chicago and Memphis and by tens of millions of dollars in Albany and San Antonio (New York Times, 6/21). Hospitals named in the lawsuits are operated by Advocate Health Care, Ascension Health, Catholic Health East, HCA, Methodist Healthcare System, Resurrection Health Care, Vanguard Health Systems and others (O'Reilly, Bloomberg/Houston Chronicle, 6/21).
Small said, "We are continuing our investigation in other cities with the possibility that there will be additional cases filed" (New York Times, 6/21).
The Times reports that the hospitals named in the suits "either said they had done nothing wrong or said they would not comment because they had not seen the legal papers" (New York Times, 6/21).
SEIU President Andy Stern said, "These lawsuits reveal that there are certain ways nurses are not valued in our country, and we say that has to stop" (Franklin, Chicago Tribune, 6/21).