Jamie Aguilar, a Providence nurse and member of the Oregon Nurses Association, is fighting to make sure her fellow nurses and providers are getting what they are owed. She works for Providence Health & Services, Oregon’s largest hospital system.
According to the class-action lawsuit she filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court, the facility has been underpaying nurses since last month when it switched to Genesis HR Solutions payroll system. Aguilar says recent paychecks don’t reflect the proper rates. They also don’t account for overtime, bonuses, all hours worked, higher pay for certain shifts and staff qualifications. The tax deductions and withholdings are also incorrect, according to the suit.
“Plaintiff and numerous employees have found errors in their pay,” the lawsuit says. “Some employees have been able to identify how they were underpaid. Other employees have concluded they were underpaid but have no reasonable way to identify how exactly they were underpaid and the amounts owed.”
The staff says the company should’ve known the software was flawed before it went live, so this whole mess could’ve been avoided.
“It would be a problem if this happened to a handful of workers,” said Richard Botterill, the Oregon Nurses Association executive committee chair at Providence Portland Medical Center.
“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.”
The health system employs 10,000 healthcare workers in Oregon, including 4,000 nurses represented by the Oregon Nurses Association, 200 of which have signed onto the suit.
The plaintiffs are seeking back pay and damages for all non-salaried employees.
They are demanding that Providence Health & Services:
- Reinstate the old payroll system as a backup to ensure payroll records are accurate.
- Conduct a comprehensive audit of all timecard records since the Genesis payroll system was implemented to determine how much each employee is owed based on existing rates and the amounts they received.
- 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.
The union representing the nurses says the health system could owe damages in the millions.
“While the exact amount of theft is too large to determine without a comprehensive audit, lost wages and penalties could be in the millions,” the association said.
In response, Providence acknowledged the error and that its employees were being underpaid.
“Providence apologizes to its caregivers and their families who have been affected by recent paycheck issues,” said Gary Walker, a Providence spokesman. “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 company says it thoroughly tested the new payroll system before it went live last month, but it has received over 90,000 complaints about paycheck errors.
“Nurses and workers have now gone more than three full pay periods without a comprehensive resolution,” the union said.
Walker added that most of the errors have been fixed and that fewer than 2% of Providence employees still have incorrect paychecks, mostly for premium pay rates.
“These remaining issues are being resolved as quickly as possible,” Walker said. “Oregon Nurses Association’s suggestions that Providence is “robbing workers” and intentionally underpaying its caregivers are completely and utterly false.”