On May 1, a federal judge threw out the New York State Nurses Association lawsuit against Montefiore Medical Center.
The lawsuit, which was filed, April 20, sought to address severe workplace hazards that are causing or are likely to cause a nurse’s death or serious physical harm.
According to the Hill, “U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman said he did not have the authority to rule on the disagreement, and he encouraged the parties to “continue their efforts to reach an amicable resolution of their disputes.”
Plagued by the serious illness and, in some instances, death, the nurses on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic were seeking a reverse Boys Markets injunction to compel Montefiore to immediately take steps required to protect the nurses’ health and safety pending the outcome of the arbitration.
For front line health care workers like the Montefiore nurses, the lawsuit stated that precautions must include the provision of adequate protective masks, such as N95s, that are not improperly stored and reused day after day, and the provision of non-permeable gowns and other covering, both in sufficient numbers so that they may be changed when needed.
Montefiore Hospital was pleased with the court’s decision.
“This ruling recognizes the unions’ disgraceful and counterproductive behavior for what it is — a distraction from our efforts to save lives throughout the crisis,” a spokesman said. “The court concluded that “given the measures that Montefiore has been taking, under extraordinary circumstances, to protect its staff and provide patient care” it would dismiss NYSNA’s lawsuit, allowing us to return our focus 100% to caring for our patients.”
A spokesman for NYSNA said they wished the judge ruled in their favor, but are satisfied that Montefiore has agreed to make concessions.
Montefiore has said that going forward, it will do the following for its nurses employed at the hospital:
- Properly fit nurses with N95 respirator masks that they will now get on a daily basis.
- Give legally-required sick pay to nurses who have been out of work due to COVID-19 infection, and restore sick pay banks that the hospital previously improperly docked.
- Expand COVID-19 testing to more nurses working with COVID-19 patients.
- Establish additional compensation benefits for every frontline healthcare worker to recognize their extra work efforts and significant personal sacrifices.