Second Circuit Affirms Preliminary Injunction Pausing Arbitration Against Migrant Nurse Who Left His Job

On Thursday, March 7, 2024, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit affirmed the preliminary injunction issued last year for our client, Benzor Shem Vidal, pausing the arbitration that Advanced Care Staffing (ACS) filed against Mr. Vidal for leaving his job. The three-judge panel found that Mr. Vidal had raised sufficiently serious questions about whether ACS’s “loser-pays” arbitration provision prevented him from vindicating his federal statutory rights, thus affirming the District Court’s decision to issue an injunction temporarily pausing the arbitration. Kakalec Law attorney Hugh Baran represented Mr. Vidal in the Second Circuit appeal, along with co-counsel Juno Turner, Valerie Collins, and David Seligman at Towards Justice. In the District Court, we are co-counsel with Towards Justice and Nichols Kaster.

To read the Second Circuit’s decision, click here.

To listen to Kakalec Law attorney Hugh Baran’s oral argument before the Second Circuit panel, click here.

To read the District Court opinion that the Second Circuit affirmed, click here.

To read Law360’s coverage of the Second Circuit’s decision, click here.

Advanced Care Staffing employs migrant nurses and staffs them in nursing homes, including in New York City. When Mr. Vidal left his job working for the company due to what he alleges were dangerous and unsafe staffing ratios that threatened his nursing license—around one nurse for every forty patients—Advanced Care Staffing weaponized the arbitration requirement in its employment contract and attempted to coerce him to return to work or face an arbitration that could bury him in $20,000 or more in damages and potentially tens of thousands in fees and arbitration costs. When Mr. Vidal declined to return to work, the company filed an arbitration against him with the American Arbitration Association.

For many months, Mr. Vidal attempted to persuade the American Arbitration Association to pause his arbitration so that he could challenge the arbitration in court based on his allegations that ACS violated his rights under federal trafficking laws, among other things. The Office of the Attorney General of New York also wrote to the American Arbitration Association urging it to pause or decline to administer the arbitration because Advanced Care Staffing’s employment contract likely amounts to forced labor. The American Arbitration Association refused, and the arbitration barrelled forward. The District Court’s preliminary injunction order temporarily halted the arbitration proceedings.

Now that ACS’s appeal has been dismissed, the District Court will be able to fully address Mr. Vidal’s challenges to the arbitration provision and the loser pays clause.