Providence must pay $200M over wage and meal break violations

Renton, Wash.-based Providence has been ordered by King County (Wash.) Judge Averil Rothrock to pay $200 million to more than 33,000 hourly employees after evidence revealed wage and meal break violations, The Seattle Times reported April 20. 

Providence employees, including nurses, medical assistants and technicians, filed the class action lawsuit in 2021. 

It claimed that Providence used a rounding policy, which has since been discontinued, that would round hourly employees' pay to the closest 15-minute increment even though their hours worked could be tracked down to seconds, the publication reported. 

Providence employees who worked shifts over 10 hours were also not given sufficient meal breaks, and yet the breaks they should have received were automatically deducted from their paychecks, the complaint said. 

Jason Rittereiser, an attorney who represented the employees, told the publication that employees worked more than 234,000 hours unpaid over almost five years. 

"It's an enormous verdict, and a good day for healthcare workers in Washington," Mr. Rittereiser said in a statement shared with Becker's. "This result sends a message to healthcare corporations that if you willfully withhold wages from your employees, the justice system will hold you accountable. On behalf of our more than 33,000 clients, we hope this important step is the one that finally convinces Providence to take accountability and pay its employees the wages they are owed."

Approximately $98 million was initially set for the employees to receive in damages for the unpaid wages. However, in January, Mr. Rothrock found Providence's violations to be willful, which doubled the payment under state law. 

"We disagree with plaintiffs' claims that some Providence hospitals in Washington failed to provide appropriate compensation to caregivers," a spokesperson for Providence said in a statement shared with Becker's. "While we are disappointed with today's outcome, we appreciate the Court and jurors who dedicated time to this case."

The case brought forth multiple wage and hour issues that have not been addressed by state statutes or the state courts of appeal, and Providence intends to appeal the results, the spokesperson said. 


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