ONA requests investigation into Providence Health over alleged wage theft

PORTLAND, Ore.- The Oregon Nurses Association asking for an investigation into Providence Health and Services after months of alleged wage theft.

The ONA says since July, Providence has been underpaying its staff, with some not receiving paychecks at all.

Providence recently switched to a new payroll system, which the health system says resulted in paycheck discrepancies.  In August, more than 200 ONA members across the state filed a class action lawsuit against Providence to recover lost wages and damages.

The ONA alleges the issue is both systematic and ongoing and is asking the Multnomah County DA’s office and the state’s Bureau of Labor and Industries to investigate. The ONA says the payroll problem effects the entirety of Providence’s system, including Medford, where nurses have allegedly been under and overpaid.

“Some nurses have been both overpaid some paychecks underpaid another, and Providence is encouraging them to swiftly pay back the overpayment, while at the same time taking its time to resolve the underpayment. Nurses are just looking for some clarity in some of these cases, where they don’t know if they can trust the numbers that are coming out on paychecks,” explained Kevin Mealy, a spokesperson for ONA.

Providence shared this written statement:

“Ensuring timely accurate pay is one of Providence’s most important responsibilities as an employer, and we are deeply sorry to those affected by recent paycheck discrepancies.

While the vast majority of issues have been resolved and retroactive pay has been provided, Providence ministries recognize that some errors are continuing to occur, and remain acutely aware of the hardship this creates for caregivers and their families.

To mitigate financial impacts and to ensure caregivers remain whole, we implemented a “fast pay” program in September to provide missed pay within 24 hours of a paycheck issue being identified.

Providence’s Oregon ministries are currently reviewing the concerns raised in the letter from the Oregon Nurses Association to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. We can say this is categorically not “theft” or intentional “systematic underpayment” of caregivers, as ONA alleges.

Rather, it is a case of complex pay structures across the Providence family of organizations, as well as the growing pains of implementing a new technology platform to support administrative functions and services.

Ultimately, the new system, Genesis, will make it easier for caregivers to get information and manage changes from any device at any time. Until then, we remain absolutely committed to addressing issues to ensure caregivers receive correct and timely pay. We remain deeply grateful to all our caregivers for all they do on behalf of our communities and the patients we serve.”

Grace Smith is co-anchor for NBC5 News at 6. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl. Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it's the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.
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