More than 200 Filipino nurses who filed human trafficking claims against a nursing home group have had their case classified as a class action suit by a United States federal judge in New York.

Filipino nurses who were recruited by the Sentosa Nursing Recruitment Agency in the Philippines and employed in the US since December 23, 2008 shall be part of a class suit against the nursing home, GMA News reported.

The decision was made after a Filipino nurse named Rose Ann Paguirigan accused the SentosaCare nursing home group of threatening Filipino nurses to force them into working for lower than prevailing wages.

In 2015, Paguirigan signed a three-year contract to work for Golden Gate Rehabilitation and Health Care Center on Staten Island and was promised US$29 per hour. However, as a condition of employment, she would have to pay a US$25,000 penalty if she left the company within the first year. The penalty was supposedly to cover the company’s costs of recruiting her.

In the US, employers who hire foreign nurses under employment-based visas are required to pay them the prevailing wage to protect them from abuse and to ensure that foreign workers are not used to depress the wages of American workers.