3 firms charged over trafficked Pinoy physical therapist in US -
Three staffing companies were hit with a $76,000 judgment in a lawsuit which claimed that they violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act by luring a Filipino man to the United States with false promises of a highly paid full-time job, according to the website Pechman Law Group PLLC.
Licensed physical therapist Dustin Macolor met the defendants in a recruitment seminar in the Philippines. The FilAm photo
The staffing companies recruited Dustin Macolor at a shopping mall in the Philippines for a full-time position in New York as a physical therapist at a rate of $31.15 an hour.
After Macolor paid his own way to the US, the staffing companies initially required him to “volunteer” for no pay, then refused to give him full-time employment or pay him $31.15 an hour.
When Macolor said that he had to seek employment elsewhere, he was told that his employment contract prohibited him from working for another employer and was threatened with a lawsuit for $20,000 in so-called “liquidated damages.”
The staffing companies were ordered by US District Court by Judge Jesse Furman, in Southern District of New York, to pay Macolor damages and attorneys’ fees and costs totaling $76,000. Judge Furman’s decision was based on Report and Recommendation of Judge Ronald L. Ellis.
According to the complaint filed by lawyer John Howley and secured by The FilAm, Macolor, a licensed physical therapist in the State of New York, was a former employee of defendants Rhandy Libiran of American Manpower Resource Provider, Inc.; and Michael Urbino representing two agencies — Axis Point Alternative Solutions, Inc. and American Healthcare Facility Management Group, Inc. (AHFMG). He met Libiran and Urbino during an October 2012 ‘Work in America’ recruitment seminar in the Philippines, and was invited to work in the US The following year, he signed an employment contract with defendants.
The contract states that Macolor’s employer would be American Manpower and that he would be paid $31.15 per hour “as a full-time physical therapist for 6,240 hours,” according to the complaint. “Defendant American Manpower also agreed to pay sick leave of up to three days per year, holiday pay for six mandatory holidays per year, medical and dental benefits, and malpractice insurance.”
Macolor was given the assurance that he would work for one of American Manpower’s facilities in Long Island immediately upon arrival in New York.
However upon arrival in November 2013, Macolor was directed to work as a “volunteer” at the Dynamic Physical Therapy clinic in Jamaica, Queens, for 40 hours. The complaint states he was not paid for this work.
The complaint states other instances of violation of contract:
“Between December 1, 2013 and March 30, 2014, defendants did not employ plaintiff full time…Defendants did not pay plaintiff the contractually agreed compensation rate of $31.15 per hour…Plaintiff was paid only $1,093 for four months or $273 per month.” After taxes, net pay was only $223 per month.
The defendants would not allow Macolor to seek employment elsewhere and threatened to sue him for $20,000 in so-called “liquidated damages” if he found work outside of American Manpower.
As Macolor could not survive on his meager income, he got a job with a different employer. Defendants began the process of collecting damages in the amount of $27,729.67, which included accruing interest and fees to the collection agency.
“Plaintiff was held in a condition of servitude by defendants through a subtle and sophisticated scheme of non-violent coercion…Under these circumstances, plaintiff reasonably feared serious financial and reputational harm if he did not continue working for defendants,” states the complaint filed June 24, 2014 before US District Judge Jesse Furman.
The complaint charges Libiran and Urbino with fraud, breach of contract, and violation the Minimum Wage Law in the State of New York.
In a decision issued April 13, Furman recommended that judgment be entered for plaintiff in the amount of $15,088.95 in damages, $58,251.96 in attorneys’ fees and costs, and $2,756.75 in prejudgment interest, totaling $76,097.66.
A graduate of UST, Urbino is listed on LinkedIn as the founder and president of AHFMG. Libiran’s LinkedIn profile states he is the vice president of Marketing, and a graduate of De La Salle University. — Cristina DC Pastor/The FilAm