Nurses accuse Ascension of wage theft

Attorneys working with members of the Illinois Nurses Association have filed a class action lawsuit in federal court alleging wage theft by St. Louis-based Ascension.

The lawsuit, filed Feb. 22 and shared with Becker's, claims Ascension has attempted to cut labor costs while at the same time increasing executive pay, which has led to staffing problems at Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet (Ill.) and other Ascension hospitals nationwide.

"Ascension has had to resort to more complex forms of compensation in order to induce extra work at lower levels of staffing," the lawsuit states. "But [Ascension] has unlawfully cut corners even here by failure to fully provide their employees the correct compensation."

Ascension shared the following statement with Becker's: "While Ascension does not generally comment on active litigation, we pride ourselves on paying every associate a fair wage. We recently became aware of the litigation referenced and are looking into the issues raised."

The named plaintiffs, who say they are current or former Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet workers, brought the lawsuit on behalf of themselves and other similarly situated Ascension workers.

They allege they have experienced the health system's failure to pay correct amounts, including  incorrect wages, incorrect paid time off, incorrect disability benefits and incorrect wage payouts as part of a fully agreed-to settlement of a contract grievance. The lawsuit alleges that because the payroll department is located in St. Louis, the workers in Joliet have been unable to have their complaints resolved in a timely manner. Plaintiffs also allege that Ascension has been "unwilling or unable to fix their mistakes and accurately compensate these workers."

The lawsuit seeks damages and other relief.

Editor's note: This story was updated on Feb. 28. 


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