Travel nurses are suing a hiring firm after conditions in NYC hospitals were worse than they expected
Three Alabama nurses were recruited to work on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic in New York City hospitals. They left after they say the conditions were worse than what was promised. Now they're suing Kansas-based recruiting firm Krucial Staffing. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Alabama nurses Wyatt Logan, Alexis Allen, and Latricia Hickenbottom left their jobs and families to work on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, according to a recently filed lawsuit. When they got to their assigned hospitals, however, they were surprised that they were given little training, needed to work without protective equipment, and were assigned to areas they didn't have experience in. Now they're suing the Kansas-based recruiting firm, Krucial Staffing. "After plaintiffs arrived in New York, they learned in a matter of days that Krucial subjects unsuspecting nurses to physical harm by requiring work without proper protective gear," a lawyer for the nurses wrote in the suit. "Just as significantly, it required them to work outside of their fields of competence — not just specialty, but competence." On or around March 18, the nurses were recruited to the frontlines through a mass text that said all nurses or nurse practitioners who took the assignment would be provided PPE, paid $10,000 to $13,000 a week, given a stipend of $76 a day for meals, and be housed at the New Yorker Hotel. Logan has two nursing degrees and was working in an Alabama Hospital, making more than $100,000 annually. He "didn't mind the increase in pay" but the experience of travel nursing was the primary reason he took the assignment, quitting his job to do so, according to his lawyer. Allen is a nurse practitioner and was studying for her doctorate. She left her two young children and her $4,000 course for the assignment, according to the suit. Hickenbottom, also an NP, quit her job as a home health hospice work practitioner to help with the crisis. She two left her two children and husband behind, attorney Gregory Antollino wrote. "But no plaintiffs would have done it for any money had they known they were putting their lives at risk, as well as, potentially, their families," the lawyer wrote. "They also wouldn't have come had they known they would have to violated normative standards of nursing care." None of the nurses had experience in an ICU setting, and they were all taken off guard by what would be expected of them in the city, the lawyer wrote. The suit seeks $500,000 in damages and accuses Krucial Staffing of breach of contract and violating labor laws. Krucial Staffing didn't immediately comment on the case. "We have received several media requests and will contact you as soon as possible," a spokesperson for the company told Business Insider. "Our time, talent, and resources are focused upon supporting those that have been deployed by our firm and serving in any way we can to help in the fight against COVID-19."
Nurses say they were expected to work outside of their areas of study When Logan — who used a pseudonym in the suit — accepted the job, he did so to work at a swab center, where individuals would be tested for COVID-19. Those positions had been filled before he arrived. A few days after arriving in New York with no assignment, Logan was sent to work in a Medical-Surgical unit at Coler Specialty Hospital, for which he was not competent. He wasn't given the N95 respirator mask usually required for this kind of work, according to the lawsuit. There is currently a national shortage of N95 masks. "Wyatt saw not only that the lack of PPE would expose him to the virus, but that he was not competent to do what Krucial expected. Krucial certainly knew this," the lawyer wrote. "The City and Krucial just lured bodies, many with minimal qualifications, to work in a disaster zone." Krucial gave nurses the option of leaving if they were uncomfortable working without PPE, but that was "cold comfort for nurses" who traveled all the way to New York City, Antollino wrote. Hickenbottom, a nurse practitioner, alleges she was told over the phone that she'd be placed based on her area of specialty but was instead asked to work as a "Hospitalist," which usually refers to a doctor working in a hospital, at Harlem Hospital. She disputed the assignment and was given two other options, one as an RN at Harlem Hospital, and another in a COVID-19 ICU. She didn't feel like she was qualified for either, but was told later by text that "employees could not question assignments and must be flexible." She chose to leave. Allen, also an NP, was similarly offered positions outside her training and was worried accepting them would violate nursing regulations in Alabama. She learned that Krucial recruited NPs when there wasn't a need for them, and those who arrived in New York were expected instead to work in emergency rooms and ICUs, according to the lawsuit. When Bellevue Hospital in Midtown Manhattan asked the NPs who weren't assigned if they'd work as RNs instead, most "would not agree…because they were repeatedly told not to do so by Krucial," according to the suit. Antollino, who didn't immediately return a Business Insider call seeking comment Friday, wrote on his blog that most of the nurses recruited by Krucial are in their 20s and 30s and African-American. Some of the nurses started feeling sick during their assignments, he wrote. "Many of the traveling nurses developed symptoms, and – without quarantining or testing them for COVID – sent them on packed planes where, if exposed, could infect other passengers," he wrote. "Others quit their jobs to be on the front lines."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How to find water when you're stuck in the desert
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Lawsuit: Former Bloomberg saleswoman says her boss peeked up her skirt and fired her for complaining
A 27-year-old former saleswoman for Bloomberg LP has sued the company, claiming that her boss looked...A 27-year-old former saleswoman for Bloomberg LP has sued the company, claiming that her boss looked up her skirt and fired her after she complained. The boss repeatedly sat on a couch beneath a glass staircase to glimpse her underwear, the complaint says, and told colleagues it was a "red day." The complaint is the latest in a long string of accusations against Bloomberg LP and its founder, former presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, over the company's allegedly toxic and sexist culture. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. A former saleswoman for the financial data firm Bloomberg LP claims she was wrongly fired after complaining that her manager watched her climb stairs in order to sneak a peek at her underwear, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday. The suit, which seeks at least $5 million in damages, is the latest in a string of complaints stretching back decades alleging that the culture at Bloomberg LP, which was founded and is still controlled by billionaire and failed Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, is demeaning to women. Filed under a pseudonym Tuesday in New York state court, the complaint alleges that Lloyd Preece, a sales manager for the company's terminal business, repeatedly tried to catch a glimpse of the saleswoman's underwear by sitting on a couch beneath a transparent staircase on the company's third floor last year. The woman, a high-performing 27-year-old salesperson who says revealing her name could risk "retaliatory physical or mental harm," claimed that Preece once told colleagues that it was a "red day," meaning she had worn red underwear. After she complained to the company's human resources department, the suit says, her performance reviews turned sharply negative and she was denied advancement through the company. The suit comes about five months after Michael Bloomberg began facing scrutiny as a presidential candidate for a history of sexual harassment and discrimination complaints against him and his company. More than 60 women have brought about 40 complaints against the company since it was founded in 1981, claiming that the company was responsible for creating a toxic environment for women. Bloomberg has denied any wrongdoing. Neither Preece nor a Bloomberg LP spokesperson responded to requests for comment. The woman, who goes by Joan Doe in the suit, joined Bloomberg in March 2018 as part of its assets and investment manager trade desk, a lucrative part of the company's core business. While Bloomberg makes the bulk of its roughly $10 billion in annual revenue from the sale of its $2,000-a-month terminal, the AIM group sold special platforms to about 14,000 hedge funds, insurance companies, and asset managers. Doe, who was in her mid-20s when she first joined the company, was initially credited with "top top work" for her role in the group, where she had been the top seller for multiple weeks among her colleagues, according to the suit. It was only after she asked for a promotion to the firm's London office that Preece denied her advancement and then told her colleagues about her underwear, according to the suit. "During a work happy hour at a local bar where Defendant Bloomberg employees gathered," the complaint reads, "Defendant Preece commented to several male coworkers that today was a 'red day' referring to Plaintiff having worn red underwear. When male employees asked how he knew this, Preece replied that he looked up her skirt earlier as she walked up the glass staircase on the third floor of Bloomberg's offices." Doe claims in the suit that she heard about the comment secondhand, and that after she confronted Preece about it, he threatened her, saying, "this could get much worse for you if you don't stop trying to cause me problems." A former colleague of Doe's told Business Insider that they had heard about Preece's alleged comments from another team member, but hadn't heard them directly. The former colleague corroborated Doe's claim that Preece watched women climb up and down stairs on the third floor of the Bloomberg headquarters from the couches located below. "I would see him frequent that area an abnormal amount," the colleague said. "It's one thing to be eating lunch there or whatever the case is, but it's another thing to be consistently in that space." Preece went on to give Doe negative feedback at work, the complaint says, including criticizing her for wearing headphones in the office in violation of company policy. When she pointed out that many of her colleagues wore headphones, the complaint says, Preece told her that he didn't believe her and asked her to take pictures as proof. After she did so, he wrote up a complaint to HR for breaching the company's policy against taking photos at work, according to the suit. The saleswoman claims that the company's HR department exists to protect the company and its managers, and doesn't "take appropriate action against male employees charged by female employees of sexual harassment." She also claims that female employees "were encouraged by male management to dress provocatively," that male employees "created and circulated a 'Ranking List of Hot Bloomberg Girls,'" and that they would use the company's internal chat system to "stalk female employees that they wanted to pursue." On August 29, 2019, the suit says, Doe wrote an anguished letter to an HR representative asking for help. "I gave you details into disgusting comments that were made about me by someone who I'm supposed to work closely with," the letter reads. "How can you expect me to be successful in my role when I'm reporting to someone who has sexualized our relationship? It's not fair to me and it's certainly not a healthy working environment for a young woman at the beginning of her career." The woman was ultimately fired the next month, according to the suit. In February, Preece started a new position at Bloomberg as a relationship manager to hedge fund clients. Donna Clancy, a lawyer for the woman, declined to comment for the record. Clancy represents three other former Bloomberg LP employees in discrimination complaints against the company, including another anonymous woman who claims that her manager drugged and raped her on multiple occasions. That suit is ongoing, and the woman has appealed a decision by a Bronx judge to remove Michael Bloomberg as a personal defendant. While Michael Bloomberg is not named as a defendant in this suit, he has been criticized for a string of crude and sexist remarks that multiple co-workers have recounted over the years, including allegedly telling a pregnant employee that she should "kill it" rather than go on maternity leave, according to a 1997 lawsuit. Since dropping out of the presidential race in March, Michael Bloomberg has donated $18 million to the Democratic National Committee and has pledged to use his billions to help elect Joe Biden as President. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: How the Navy's largest hospital ship can help with the coronavirus
Nurses who have the coronavirus are fighting their employers to get paid time off: 'Nobody really cares about my safety'
Nurses are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, and many have contracted COVID-19, the disease...Nurses are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, and many have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, as a result. Nurses across the country told Business Insider that they have struggled to get paid time off, workers' compensation, and protective equipment from their employers. But nurses have battled with hospitals for years over pay cuts and staffing shortages. The pandemic has further exacerbated economic inequities in a profession dominated by women. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. For weeks, the only contact Ana, a nurse in California, had with her 4- and 1-year old children was watching them play outside from her bedroom window. She contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in early April, and had to self-quarantine away from her children and her father for more than a month. The single mom, a labor and delivery nurse at a hospital with confirmed coronavirus patients, started developing a sore throat and fatigue on April 4. She tested positive for the virus four days later, and immediately told her supervisor she contracted the disease at work. (There were confirmed cases around her unit, and she hadn't gone anywhere other than work prior to testing positive, she told Insider.) But the hospital administration initially denied that she got sick at work. This kept her from getting workers' compensation, which provides relief for people injured or harmed on the job. Though California governor Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order that made it harder for employers to deny workers' compensation for COVID-19 patients, Ana still had to use her remaining personal time off. She didn't get paid for 4 weeks. Business Insider spoke with nurses across the country who contracted COVID-19, and they echoed Ana's concerns. They've struggled to get workers' compensation or paid time off from their employers, they reported. They also said that hospitals have failed to provide masks and create protocols for treating patients safely. The nurses featured in this story asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash from their employers. Business Insider confirmed all identities and job titles of sources before publishing. So far, 62,000 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in the US, and at least 60 registered nurses have died. In a recent survey of nearly 23,000 nurses, one-third of respondents reported being told to use their personal time off if they contract the potentially deadly disease. But while the conflict between vulnerable nurses and hospital management has reached a breaking point during the coronavirus pandemic, the rift is not new. Nurses have been calling for protections from workplace harassment for years: safer workspaces, better pay, and more staff. Hospital administrators, lobbyists, and private employers, however, have often worked against meeting these demands. Nurses who contracted coronavirus on the job feel unprotected by their employers Like Ana, a nurse in New York City took one week of personal paid time off after testing positive for COVID-19. The nurse worked the night shift, treating two to three patients with COVID-19 at a time in the intensive care unit. She described her job as physically and mentally taxing: she had few breaks during her 12-hour shifts due to staff shortages, and got headaches from wearing ill-fitting N95 masks all night. She struggled with treating her anxious patients, and described tearing up during her shifts. Another nurse in Los Angeles developed fever and sinus problems on March 16, shortly after treating a confirmed COVID-19 patient. She believes she had the disease, but her hospital refused to test her and, at the time, did not give her additional time off. (On April 18, the hospital adopted 120 hours additional hours that nurses could use to quarantine or help with sick family members.) Hospital nurses are among the most susceptible to contracting coronavirus from a patient, as studies show they spend more time at bedsides than any other healthcare worker. "Registered nurses assume many risks on the job, from workplace violence to contracting a deadly disease," said Zenei Triunfo-Cortez, a nurse and president of the National Nurses United union. "It's imperative that their livelihoods are protected when they are not able to work due to an occupational hazard or exposure, such as quarantining or falling ill from COVID-19." If you are a nurse with a story to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org. Victoria, a school nurse, told Business Insider she also contracted COVID-19 on the job. She had been an early proponent of school closings after she noticed students with high fevers and absences in early January. Still, her administration did not close schools until March 13, and she tested positive one week later. "The school principal and the president didn't reach out personally," Victoria said. "I busted my butt to have Purell in rooms, to pull students out because I didn't want these kids in the hospital. My students have DMing me such nice things, but not a word from the administration. Not one." Photo by @hannahreyesmorales | On her day off from the hospital, Allison, a nurse, visits her son Lucas, and they read together— through a glass door in the home she's temporarily isolated from. Globally women make up approximately 70% of health and social service workers. For moms at the front line, providing critical care amid the pandemic comes with the additional challenge of caregiving for their own families. I've often associated safety with holding our loved ones physically close, but in these times safety also means distance and space. For more stories on safer space making follow me @hannahreyesmorales. #Massachusetts #COVID19 @insidenatgeo A post shared by National Geographic (@natgeo) on May 21, 2020 at 12:33pm PDT on May 21, 2020 at 12:33pm PDT Many nurses on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic could not access proper protective equipment Due to a nationwide shortage of masks — caused partly because hospitals slashed inventory before the pandemic — nurses previously told Business Insider they lack enough masks and gloves needed to treat suspected coronavirus patients. As a result, 72% of nurses nationwide reported having exposed skin or clothing when caring for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, according to the recent survey from the NNU union. Meanwhile, when one nurse tried to share tips about how her floor treated patients on Facebook in lieu of formal protocol, she subsequently got suspended from her HCA Healthcare hospital subsidiary for violating social media policies. Some nurses, including John Pearson at Highland Hospital in Oakland, said their hospitals hadn't established protocol for prepare for treating suspected COVID-19 before the outbreak. Pearson has been vocal about the hospital on his Twitter account, and had previously posted photos about the hospital's lack of PPE for nurses. "The scariest thing for us who work at the bedside is to end up making a choice between who lives and who dies because we don't have enough staffing and equipment," Pearson told Business Insider. (Business Insider reached out to Highland Hospital for comment.) Nurses were at odds with hospitals over safe workspaces and adequate staffing long before the COVID-19 crisis Though the coronavirus pandemic highlighted some challenges within the nursing industry, the friction between nurses and hospital management has been building for years. As baby boomers age, US demand for healthcare staff has increased; the workforce has among the highest projected job growth in the next decade. Yet the job has become increasingly taxing for those working in it: the industry has a higher than average rate of suicide, and a 17.2% turnover rate for bedside nurses. One point of tension between nurses and hospitals is patient ratios. Linda Aiken, a longtime researcher and professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has found that when nurses don't have more than four patients at a time, it can save lives and lead to less readmission. Just 18% of respondents believed their nurse-to-patient ratios were safe, according to a 2019 survey of Illinois nurses. Still, only one US state limits how many patients a nurse can care for during their shift. Hospitals have reduced staff to cut costs, and nurses in California, Michigan, and Massachusetts have protested staff reductions in the last few years. In 2016, nurses in Massachusetts tried to pass a ballot initiative that would decrease patient ratios, but voters ultimately decided against the proposal. Linda Aiken told Modern Healthcare that the hospital lobbying group outspent nurses by $5 million to campaign against the nurse-led reform. In 2019, nurses in Michigan attempted to form a union in order to fight against budget cuts and other staffing issues; over the past few years, thousands of unionized nurses authorized strikes in California, Illinois, and Vermont. Nurses, already among the most vulnerable workforces in the country, are left to pay their own time off or find a new job Now, nurses are fighting back once again by protesting working conditions amid a worldwide pandemic. Nurses at 15 HCA hospitals in six states will stage a mass protest this week, according to a press release from the NNU. HCA, the largest health system in the country, introduced pay cuts for senior leeadership on May 12 and cut hours for nurses due what it says is a reduction in the volume of elective procedures. HCA spokesperson Harlow Sumerford told Business Insider the company has not laid off any caregivers as a result of COVID-19. "We call on all health facilities to immediately agree that any nurse exposed to COVID-19 be fully compensated while off work, without having to use PTO or lose pay or benefits," union president Triunfo-Cortez said in a statement to Business Insider. Karly, an LPN in Southwest Oklahoma, lives paycheck to paycheck to support her husband and son. She and her husband contracted coronavirus in early April; the hospital gave her a one-week grace period, but told her she couldn't return to work until she tested negative twice. Karly quarantined with her husband for a month before receiving two negative tests. She missed two paychecks while already struggling to support her family. "I'm not really sure exactly what's going to happen because we live paycheck to paycheck," Karly said. "My husband does still have a job, but I make more money than he does." But the coronavirus has left the most vulnerable nurses without many options, exacerbating inequities that already existed. Women make up more than 90% of the registered nurse population, according to the Journal of Nursing Regulation. One in every 5 registered nurses identified as a minority, and almost 30% of licensed practical nurses, the lowest paying of any nursing role, are people of color. Since black and Latina women already make among the lowest average salaries in the US, lack of paid leave during the coronavirus can upend family finances. Many nurses have decided to leave their jobs altogether for fear of contracting the illness. A nurse from Illinois with cancer was told by her doctor going into work could threaten her life. But her employer told her that she cannot get paid time off or work from home, and that she should either come into work or quit her job. The hospital presented the nurse with an impossible decision: risk her life doing her job or quit. The nurse ultimately decided to leave her job altogether, leaving her without health insurance to cover her ten thousand dollar cancer medication. "I feel like I'm leaving my career not the way I wanted, but I feel like I have to," the nurse told Business Insider. "Nobody really cares about my safety."Join the conversation about this story »