A federal jury is deciding whether one of the nation’s biggest private prison companies must pay minimum wage — instead of $1 a day — to immigration detainees who perform tasks like cooking and cleaning at its jail in Washington state.
Democratic Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the Florida-based GEO Group in 2017, saying the company had unjustly profited by running the Northwest detention center in Tacoma on the backs of captive workers.
A separate lawsuit filed on behalf of detainees was also filed that year, seeking back pay. Tacoma-based U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan, who rejected several attempts by GEO to dismiss the lawsuits, consolidated the cases for trial, which he conducted via Zoom because of the pandemic.
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