Court Says Nursing Homes Underpaid Foreign Nurses

     CHICAGO (CN) – Alden Management Services, which owns seven nursing homes in the Chicago area, must pay 119 Filipino nurses at the rate it paid U.S. nurses in the early 1990s, the 7th Circuit ruled.

     The Secretary of Labor launched an investigation in 1995 over concerns that incorrect information had been used to secure visas for the foreign nurses under the Immigration Nursing Relief Act of 1989.
     After the secretary ordered Alden to pay the nurses for their entire period of employment under the temporary visas, Alden argued that the order was invalid because the investigation had been initiated by the State Department, not a nurse or nurse’s union.
     The court ruled that an agency has the discretion to investigate absent a private complaint. Judge Easterbrook wrote that ensuring an employer’s legal compliance is one of the “marks of good government.”
     The 7th Circuit rejected Alden’s attempt to limit the back pay to a period of two years, because there is no period of limitations for the secretary’s order, and even if there was, it only affects the extent to which damages can be applied after proceedings begin.
     The three-judge panel upheld a ruling for the secretary, and said Alden owes back pay to foreign nurses.

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