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Portland hospital fined $277K for worker break violations

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Legacy Emanuel Medical Center has been fined nearly $277,000 for failing to ensure that employees get breaks.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the Bureau of Labor and Industries announced the fines on Thursday, stating the fine is the largest amount of civil penalties in the agency's history.

After dozens of employee complaints came in, the state found that the North Portland hospital had more than 4,400 meal and rest period violations in 2015 and 2016.

Surgical technicians claimed they went four or more hours without a bathroom break.

The agency states that the hospital originally requested a hearing to contest the violations, but withdrew the request in October.

Legacy Health stated it disagreed with the bureau's assessment, but decided not to spend money on lawyers in disputing the fines.

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Information from: The Oregonian/OregonLive, http://www.oregonlive.com
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News release from the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries:

Legacy Emanuel to pay $277K in civil penalties for meal and rest period violations

Wage and hour investigation uncovers more than 4,439 violations

PORTLAND, OR—Legacy Emanuel Hospital will pay $276,680 in civil penalties for 4,439 meal and rest period violations, the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) announced today. The Final Order on Default issued by the agency represents the largest assessment of civil penalties in the agency’s history.

Wage and hour compliance specialists found 1,343 meal period violations in Legacy Emanuel Hospital’s surgical department and 2,636 meal period violations in its housekeeping department occurring between November 1, 2015 and January 31, 2016. In addition, the Wage and Hour Division found 449 meal period violations in the hospital’s Family Birthing Center occurring between July 24, 2016 and August 6, 2016. BOLI also assessed maximum civil penalties for 11 willful violations of the rest period requirements of the law.

 Legacy Emanuel had previously requested a contested case hearing, but withdrew the request in October. The Final Order on Default subsequently issued by the agency is available upon request.

“BOLI is committed to ensuring that all workers receive the meal and rest breaks they’re entitled to under law,” said Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian. “These breaks are important – not just for the individual workers, but also the patients they serve.”

Under Oregon law, employers must provide one 30-minute unpaid meal break to anyone working a shift of six hours or more. Businesses must also provide two paid 10-minute rest breaks in an eight-hour shift and three such breaks in any shift longer than 10 hours.

BOLI initiated an investigation after receiving multiple employee complaints against the hospital. The agency also has open wage and hour investigations into whether other violations occurred at Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center, Legacy Good Samaritan and Legacy Meridian Park Hospital. BOLI’s Administrative Prosecution Unit is currently evaluating another meal and rest period case involving employees at Legacy Silverton.

Employees with wage and hour claims or complaints may contact the Wage and Hour Division at (971) 673-0844 or via email at whdemail@boli.state.or.us. Employers seeking compliance guidance may contact the agency’s Technical Assistance for Employers hotline at (971) 673-0824. For more information about BOLI’s effort to support employers and protect workers, please visit the agency’s website at oregon.gov/BOLI/Pages.


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