Judge dismisses New York nurses union suit against hospital for working conditions during pandemic

Judge dismisses New York nurses union suit against hospital for working conditions during pandemic
© Getty

A federal judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the main New York nurses union against a New York City hospital for the working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman, an Obama appointee, ruled in favor of Montefiore Medical Center, located in the Bronx, by granting its motion to dismiss the lawsuit, according to the order obtained by The Hill. 

The lawsuit, filed by the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), had accused the hospital of failing to provide enough personal protective equipment and implement measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Furman said in his decision that 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.”

He said the hospital and union were “in a better position than either the Court or an arbitrator to find the best ways to achieve that goal despite limited resources and ever-changing circumstances.”

“Both sides presumably share the ultimate goal of maximizing protections for healthcare workers on the front lines of the battle against a vicious disease without compromising patient care,” the judge wrote.

A Montefiore spokesperson told The Hill in a statement that the dismissal allowed the medical center to “return our focus 100% to caring for our patients.”

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."

"This ruling recognizes the unions' disgraceful and counterproductive behavior for what it is -- a distraction from our efforts to save lives throughout the crisis,” the spokesperson said. 

ADVERTISEMENT

The NYSNA released a statement saying the center has already made changes since the lawsuit’s filing, including giving nurses N95 masks daily, restoring sick pay, expanding testing to nurses with coronavirus patients and giving additional compensation benefits. 

“Every safety improvement that Montefiore Medical Center has made was the result of nurses fighting for working conditions that protect the health and safety of nurses and patients,” the statement said. 

The NYSNA also filed their lawsuit against the New York Department of Health and another hospital Westchester Medical Center. Those cases are still pending.

New York state has confirmed 316,415 cases of coronavirus, leading to 19,189 deaths, according to the state’s health department.