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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries announced penalties against Legacy Health that could total more than $5 million.

Legacy Meridian Park Hospital, Legacy Mount Hood Medical Center and Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital and Medical Center received notices of intent to assess civil penalties from BOLI over meal and rest period violations.

BOLI investigators said in 2017 they found nearly 5,000 cases of “willful failure to provide appropriate meal periods.”

BOLI also alleges the three hospitals failed to provide appropriate rest periods to 272 employees during the agency’s investigation.

Legacy Health issued a statement Friday saying, “Legacy Health fundamentally disagrees with the results of the BOLI investigation and its allegations regarding the appropriateness of the meal periods that Legacy has provided to its employees. We strongly dispute BOLI's inappropriate characterization of Legacy's actions as willful as well as the excessive and disproportionate penalties. We are dismayed that, in at least one case, BOLI pointed to an eight-year-old complaint to justify itself.”

The statement continued by saying “the needs of our patients and their families sometimes cause meal breaks to be deferred to later in a shift.”

Legacy will seek a hearing on the allegations through “all levels of the civil administrative process and the legal process and vigorously defend our actions and policies.”

BOLI is assessing $1,000 per violation, the maximum possible penalty. BOLI reported receiving multiple employee complaints about the hospital system, leading to the investigations.

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 reports that $276,690 in civil penalties were assessed against Legacy Emanuel in November 2017 for meal and rest period violations, which were not contested and paid in full.

Copyright 2018 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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