By August 10, 2012 1 Comments

Ask a Travel Nurse:What are my legal rights and why do I have to pay travel expenses?


Travel Nursing Contracts, legal rightsAsk a Travel Nurse Question:

I’m in need of some much needed guidance. I would’ve been starting my third travel assignment with On Assignment in Lafayette, LA on a Med/Surg unit. I proceeded to my location from Pittsburgh, PA a 20 hours, three day journey. Paid for my LA license and checked into Extended Stay. Come Monday morning I reported to the HR department, at which time they let me know that I need ACLS to work there. Which I told and also have on my resume my certification. I spoke to my recruiter through out the week and they told me they couldn’t help me. So on Thursday, they told me I should go home to Pittsburgh. Then it got real crazy because when I confronted them and ask for reimbursement for my travel expense ( just for the record this company doesn’t pay for travel expense), they told me that they would pay for my license and 500.00 travel expense and my ACLS if I return in three weeks,  but did I fail to mention I would have to pay up front for all these items they’re asking for. I told them I would not and contacted their corporate office. I think that sounds like extortion to me. I’m not sure what my legal rights are in regards to the situation.

Ask a Travel Nurse Answer:

Let me say that I’m sorry you have had such a bad travel experience. I am not able to say what you are entitled to legally, but you can certainly contact a lawyer to explore options.

However, this is unfortunately probably another case of a bad travel company taking advantage of a traveler. The cost to obtain a lawyer and litigate would probably outweigh any benefit. You could always take them to small claims court, but your contract probably states that any legal action has to be brought in a certain state (probably not your own). So, to travel to that state to litigate would again probably not be worth the while.

Do use it as a learning experience. I have never traveled to an assignment where I had to spend any of my own money (other than to drive there). Always read your contract to know what things you could be on the hook for and if it sounds like you are taking too much of a risk, decline the contract.

Finally, work with a company that gets high marks from other travelers. There are a few travel nursing forums where you can post and ask about companies and other people’s experiences with them.

Two good places are and the Delphi forum for traveling professionals (go to, look for the box on the right that says “Explore existing forums”, type in “travel nursing” and the top result is a group called Travel Nurses and Therapists with over half a million members).

I always encourage nurses to join at least a few companies to open them up to more assignment offerings, but this also helps if you find yourself in a location where you need to pick up another assignment quickly.

If you would like the names of some recruiters at the companies I work with and trust, please feel free to let me know.

Sorry I could not help more with the legal stuff, but I never like to give legal advice since that is not my specialty.


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About the Author:

Hello everyone. I’m a travel nurse originally from Ohio who graduated in 1993 from Mount Carmel School of Nursing in Columbus. I completed a critical care fellowship at Riverside Methodist Hospital in 1994 and started traveling in that specialty a year later. My first travel assignment was in Maui and since that time I have completed close to 40 different contracts in various states with multiple travel companies. I am the author of Travel Nurse’s Bible (A Guide to Everything on Travel Nursing), in addition to my writings here and in the pages of Travel Nursing publications such as Healthcare Traveler Magazine and American Nurse Today. I am presently on assignment in Phoenix, AZ and travel anywhere from six to eleven months of the year.

1 Comment on "Ask a Travel Nurse:What are my legal rights and why do I have to pay travel expenses?"

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  1. Agreed, reading and understanding your contract if by far the best step to take to avoid pitfalls. For the most part the contract has clauses that should never come into play under most circumstances. That being said make sure you truly agree to the terms to a contract when you sign.

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