Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center Hospital will pay more than $4.5 million to settle its part in a lawsuit alleging hospitals in the greater Albany area conspired to keep pay unusually low for thousands of nurses, reports the Associated Press. The settlement represents 2 percent of nurses' pay from June 2002 to June 2006.
According to the federal class-action suit, the hospitals shared detailed information about salaries and benefits, and agreed not to compete for nurses over a four-year period. In addition to keeping nursing pay below industry norms, the suit also claims the hospitals paid hourly rates that differed by no more than $1.
The nurses' attorney, Daniel Small, estimated that each nurse lost about $6,000 a year in compensation, notes the Albany Times Union.
The other Albany-area hospitals involved--St. Peter's Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital in Amsterdam, Samaritan Hospital in Troy and Albany Memorial Hospital--already reached settlements in the case. Legal action against Ellis Hospital in Schenectady is still pending.
Although the hospitals agreed to the settlement, they admitted no wrongdoing.
"While Albany Medical Center continues to deny any wrongdoing as we have from the outset of this case, we have agreed to settle this lawsuit to limit the expense and distraction of additional court proceedings," hospital spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman told the AP. "We will not put the cost to continue fighting this lawsuit before the critical needs of our staff, patients and the public."