(Portland, OR) – An Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) member leader filed a class action lawsuit against Providence St. Joseph Health for wage theft today seeking injunctive relief to stop Providence from continuing to shortchange frontline health care workers. In addition, more than 200 ONA members have provided notice of intent to seek monetary damages, including back pay, through the class action. The goal of the lawsuit is to recover lost wages and damages incurred by thousands of frontline health care workers at Providence following Providence’s move to a faulty payroll system.
In July, Providence switched to a new Genesis payroll system which systematically underpays nurses and other frontline health care workers. This has led to lost wages and benefits for nurses and frontline health care workers including but not limited to: unpaid hours; unpaid overtime; unpaid differentials; unpaid certification pay; and other lost hours and benefits. Individual impacts range from nurses missing a few dollars to workers missing entire paychecks.
ONA represents more than 4,000 frontline nurses working in 10 Providence Health System hospitals and facilities from Portland to Medford. Hundreds of nurses and other frontline health care workers at all 10 Providence Oregon facilities have been negatively impacted by Providence’s wage theft.
“It would be a problem if this happened to a handful of workers. This is an out-and-out disaster. Providence is paying frontline nurses and health care workers pennies on the dollar and keeping the difference. This is a multi-billion dollar company cheating nurses and working families out of their hard-earned livelihoods. Robbing workers of the money they rely on for food, rent and basic needs is unacceptable,” said ONA Executive Committee Chair at Providence Portland Medical Center Richard Botterill, RN. ”It’s a simple solution. Providence needs to pay frontline health care workers the money they’ve earned.”
Today’s class action lawsuit seeks to recover lost wages and damages owed to all workers at Providence including nurses, allied health workers, technicians, housekeepers, food services staff, doctors and other workers who have suffered from Providence’s failure to pay workers the wages they are owed. More than 200 frontline nurses who are victims of Providence’s wage theft have already signed on to the class action lawsuit and thousands of other nurses and health care workers have been negatively impacted by Providence’s unpaid wages. Workers who have been victims of Providence’s wage theft but who are not named in the lawsuit will still benefit from a fair settlement. The lawsuit is filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court. While the exact amount of theft is too large to determine without a comprehensive audit, lost wages and penalties could be in the millions.
ONA nurses at all 10 ONA Providence bargaining units have also filed grievances against Providence. The grievances offer Providence another way to correct its wage theft by demanding Providence immediately:
- Reinstate the prior payroll system as a backup to ensure payroll records are accurate and to prevent Providence from continuing to underpay frontline nurses and health care workers.
- Conduct a comprehensive audit of all time card records since the implementation of the Genesis payroll system to determine and correct all improper wage deductions and restore any lost benefits including potential lost paid time off (PTO).
- Pay direct and indirect damages to all workers affected by Providence’s improper wage deductions, including but not limited to banking overdraft fees, fines for missed rent or mortgage payments and credit card late payment penalties.
ONA brought concerns about Providence’s payroll system change to management months ago. Providence assured nurses the system had been thoroughly tested. As frontline workers began losing pay and continued raising concerns–including filing more than 90,000 HR payroll tickets pointing out Providence’s mistakes–Providence management again assured nurses the problems would be quickly fixed. However, nurses and workers have now gone more than 3 full pay periods without a comprehensive resolution.
Nurses and health care workers have incurred debt and shouldered added financial stress because of Providence’s systemic theft and incompetence. Providence has the responsibility to make these nurses and workers whole.
Providence St. Joseph Health is the third-largest health system in the US and one of the largest employers and companies in Oregon with tens of billions in annual revenue. Despite its national reach, Providence regularly collects more than half of its total profits from Oregonians.
The Oregon Nurses Association (ONA) is the state’s largest and most influential nursing organization. We are a professional association and labor union which represents more than 15,000 nurses and allied health workers throughout the state, including more than 4,000 nurses working at 10 Providence Oregon health care facilities throughout the state. ONA’s mission is to advocate for nursing, quality health care and healthy communities. For more information visit: www.OregonRN.org.