PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Nurses Association announced Monday that over 200 members have joined a class action lawsuit against Providence for wage theft, claiming that the health care organization has failed to pay workers their earned wages.

According to ONA, the lawsuit’s goal 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.”

ONA says the payroll system Providence switched to in July systemically underpays nurses and front-line workers, as well as other employees, including technicians, housekeepers and the food services staff.

“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.”

Victims of Providence’s alleged wage theft who are not named in the lawsuit would still benefit from a settlement, according to ONA.

ONA says that nurses at all 10 bargaining units have also filed grievances against Providence, demanding that Providence make the following changes:

  • 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.
  • 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.

Providence released a statement Monday afternoon regarding the lawsuit.

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.

Here’s what happened: In early July, Providence implemented a new enterprise resource planning system – known as Genesis — to improve administrative processes, including human resources, timekeeping and payroll. Previously, multiple systems, including some outdated technology, had been used resulting in a fragmented experience and requiring manual processes.

As of today, less than 2% of Providence caregivers 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 (ONA)’s suggestions that Providence is ‘robbing workers’ and intentionally underpaying its caregivers are completely and utterly false.

Again, we deeply regret that some valued caregivers, and their families, have had to bear any financial hardship, anxiety or disruption as a result of this transition. As an employer, providing accurate and timely pay for caregivers’ time and talents is one of the most fundamental roles we play.

The Providence Mission calls us to care for all. This includes our caregivers. We are absolutely committed to doing everything we can to resolve the remaining outstanding issues as quickly as possible. We also remain profoundly grateful to our caregivers for their patience and for all they do to serve patients in need.”