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Workers sue Providence over incorrect pay

Payroll system problems at the multistate Providence St. Joseph Health network have impacted Providence health care workers, including some in Southern Oregon. [File photo of Providence Medford Medical Center]
New payroll system causing problems

More than 200 Oregon Nurses Association members have joined a class action lawsuit against Providence St. Joseph Health after losing pay due to a faulty new payroll system, the association announced this week.

Stretching across seven states, the Providence St. Joseph Health network includes Providence Medford Medical Center in Medford.

The payroll problems have affected some caregivers in Southern Oregon, said Julie Denney, spokeswoman for Providence Medford Medical Center.

Providence is working to resolve the problems, and as of this week, less than 2% of caregivers in Oregon continue to experience incorrect pay, Providence said in a statement.

The Oregon Nurses Association, a professional association and labor union, said it represents 15,000 health care workers in the state, including more than 4,000 working at 10 Providence health care facilities in Oregon.

The association accused Providence of wage theft.

“It would be a problem if this happened to a handful of workers. This is an out-and-out disaster,” Richard Botterill, a registered nurse at Providence Portland Medical Center and chairman of ONA’s Executive Committee, said in a statement. “Providence is paying frontline nurses and health care 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.”

In July, Providence switched to a new Genesis payroll system that systematically underpays nurses and other frontline health care workers, ONA said.

Individual impacts range from nurses missing a few dollars to workers missing entire paychecks, ONA said.

ONA said it brought concerns about Providence’s payroll system change to management months ago. It said Providence assured nurses the system had been thoroughly tested.

As workers began losing pay and filing complaints, Providence said the issues would be quickly fixed, but workers have now gone more than three full pay periods without a comprehensive resolution, ONA said.

Providence said it’s working to resolve the pay problems and is issuing new paycheck batches daily with correct retroactive pay for impacted employees.

“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,” the nonprofit organization said in a statement.

Providence said it implemented the new Genesis system to improve administrative processes, including payroll, timekeeping and human resources. Previously, multiple systems — including some with outdated technology — had been used.

Providence said ONA’s “suggestions that Providence is ‘robbing workers’ and intentionally underpaying 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,” Providence said. “As an employer, providing accurate and timely pay for caregivers’ time and talents is one of the most fundamental roles we play.”

ONA said it wants Providence to conduct a comprehensive audit of all time card records since the implementation of the new payroll system and restore any lost pay and benefits, such as paid time off.

ONA also wants Providence to pay bank overdraft fees, fines for missed rent or mortgage payments, credit card late payment penalties and any other fees workers face because of improper pay.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.