Union accuses Providence of wage theft

Members of the Oregon Nurses Association have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging wage theft by Renton, Wash.-based Providence.

The union represents more than 4,000 nurses working in 10 facilities that are part of Providence. Providence is a 52-hospital health system with 120,000 total employees.

More than 200 union members have joined the class-action lawsuit against Providence over wages, according to an Aug. 15 news release shared with Becker's.

The lawsuit stems from Providence's switch in July to a new Genesis payroll system. As a result of the switch, workers have experienced unpaid hours, unpaid overtime, unpaid differentials, unpaid certification pay and other lost hours and benefits, the Oregon Nurses Association stated. The union contends some nurses are missing a few dollars and other workers are missing entire paychecks. 

"It would be a problem if this happened to a handful of workers. This is an out-and-out disaster," Union Executive Committee Chair at Providence Portland Medical Center Richard Botterill, RN, said in a news release. "Providence is paying front-line nurses and healthcare workers pennies on the dollar and keeping the difference. This is a multibillion-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. It's a simple solution. Providence needs to pay front-line healthcare workers the money they've earned." 

In a statement shared with Becker's, Providence acknowledged the payroll issues but disputed the union's allegations.

"Providence apologizes to its caregivers and their families who have been affected by recent paycheck issues. We take these issues incredibly seriously and we are working daily to identify and resolve reported issues. To ensure our caregivers are kept whole during this unfortunate disruption, we are running off-cycle paycheck batches daily as needed, with the correct retroactive pay," the health system said.

Providence also said that as of Aug. 15, less than 2 percent of Providence workers in Oregon continue to experience incorrect pay, specifically related to pay differentials and premium pay.

"These remaining issues are being resolved as quickly as possible. Oregon Nurses Association's suggestions that Providence is 'robbing workers' and intentionally underpaying its caregivers are completely and utterly false," Providence said.

The Oregon Nurses Association lawsuit seeks to recover lost wages and damages owed to nurses, allied health workers, technicians, housekeepers, food services staff, physicians and other workers. 

The National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents Providence workers in Northern California, has also filed grievances related to the payroll issues.

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