Oregon Employees Seek Justice: $25M Lawsuit Filed Over Payroll Nightmare

PORTLAND, Ore.β€”A $25 million lawsuit has been filed against Oregon because state employees still have trouble getting paid for the third month.

Officials in charge of payroll say they are making progress and that most employees are now getting paid on time, but for those who aren’t, these ongoing problems are causing some workers to lose their savings and even their homes.

State workers told KOIN 6 that the problem with payroll, which one worker called a “nightmare” is still happening.

Since the change, workers say they still have problems, like getting paid late or not at all or having their paid time off and deductions added up wrong.

Oregon Employees Seek Justice $25M Lawsuit Filed Over Payroll Nightmare

Updated on Monday, Mar. 27, 2023, a lawsuit against the state now asks for $25 million for the affected employees. It says, “since implementing a new payroll system on Dec. 1, 2022, the state of Oregon has wrongly paid its employees and broken many wage laws.”

“They didn’t try it out on us to see if it worked. “Now we’re the test subjects, and we’re paying the price,” one of these workers said.

She has worked for the state’s Department of Environmental Quality for four years and asked to remain anonymous because she feared punishment.

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She also said that since the system switched, her tax deductions, sick pay, and time off have all been affected.

β€œWe’ve been told that maybe we should hire a tax accountant, and that doesn’t make sense,” she said. β€œIf I’m not getting enough, if people aren’t earning the money they’re supposed to be getting, how can they afford to hire a tax accountant for an error they didn’t make? ”

β€œI lost my home because, you know, with the issues for my health and then not getting paid correctly for a few months, like, I’m technically homeless,” Smith said.

Smith works for the Oregon Department of Human Services in the Self-Sufficiency Office. She tells us that if her kind friends hadn’t opened their homes to her and her kids, they would be living in their cars like other workers.

β€œI can think of three people now living in cars with their children because they lost their homes because they haven’t been paid the right amounts on time, and landlords don’t care if you don’t have your rent,” Smith said.

Oregon Employees Seek Justice $25M Lawsuit Filed Over Payroll Nightmare

Gov. Tina Kotek’s office hasn’t said anything yet about the pending lawsuit or payroll problems, but the state’s Department of Administrative Services has acknowledged the ongoing issues and improvements made:

β€œWe are very sorry for the strain this has caused on some members of our workforce. DAS has been working with a team of IT experts to evaluate the post-implementation process and response to the state’s new payroll system… We believe we are on the right track, but we are not quite there yet.

However, we do know that the majority of employees are being paid accurately each month.”

But people like Smith, who help connect people in need with SNAP benefits and services, say that if a permanent solution isn’t found, the state’s most vulnerable workers may need help themselves.

β€œIt’s upsetting to me, working in the office that helps get benefits to people,” Smith said. β€œI don’t believe anyone who works for the state should be eligible for those benefits.”


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