University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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S P E C I A L   C O L L E C T I O N
Immigrant Detention Labor Issues

This special collection focuses on challenges to labor practices at immigrant detention centers across the country. Persons currently or formerly held in civil immigration detention centers sued either GEO Group or Core Civic, two private companies that operate prisons and detention centers. They alleged that these defendants maintained a combination of illegal labor practices including wage theft, unjust enrichment, and forced labor, including requiring work for little or no pay. Plaintiffs have brought claims under state causes of action, the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act and 18 U.S.C. § 1589, the federal law prohibiting forced labor. Courts in several of these cases have granted class certification.

Notably, on October 29, 2021, a jury in the Western District of Washington awarded the plaintiff class a verdict of $17.3 million in backpay in Chen v. GEO Group, in which plaintiffs sued GEO Group for paying workers $1/day in violation of state law. The state of Washington also brought a companion case to Chen, Washington v. GEO Group. There, the court held a jury trial in June 2021, and the jury awarded the state a judgment of $5,950,340 and enjoined GEO Group from continuing “the Voluntary Work Program,” which it had been operating without paying workers the minimum wage.

The below cases represent a special subset of the full Clearinghouse collection.
Your search returned 8 results Save Search As:       
1 Ndambi v. CoreCivic
1:18-cv-03521 (D. Md.)
Filed 11/14/2018 - Case Ongoing
CoreCivic, Inc.
CoreCivic, Inc.
Immigration and/or the Border
IM-MD-0011
Baltimore County
Coding Complete
On November 14, 2018, immigrants detained at the Cibola County Correctional Center filed this putative class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland. (Although the facility in question is located in New Mexico, the operator is organized as a Maryland corporation.) They sued the operator of the facility, CoreCivic, ... [view]
2 Barrientos v. Corecivic
4:18-cv-00070-CDL (M.D. Ga.)
Filed 04/17/2018 - Case Ongoing
CoreCivic, Inc.
Immigration and/or the Border
IM-GA-0012
Coding Complete
On April 17, 2018, three current or former detained immigrants filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia. The plaintiffs sued CoreCivic, Inc., a private prison corporation that owns and operates the Stewart Detention Center (“Stewart”), under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 18 ... [view]
3 Gonzalez v. CoreCivic, Inc.
17-CV-02573 (S.D. Cal.)
Filed 12/27/2017 - Case Ongoing
CoreCivic, Inc.
Immigration and/or the Border
IM-CA-0154
Coding Complete
On December 27, 2017, five detainees in California's Otay Mesa Detention Center ("the Facility"), a for-profit civil immigration detention facility, filed this class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The plaintiffs sued CoreCivic, a multibillion-dollar corporation that owns and operates civil ... [view]
4 Novoa v. GEO Group
5:17-cv-02514 (C.D. Cal.)
Filed 12/19/2017 - Case Ongoing
GEO Group
Immigration and/or the Border
IM-CA-0142
Coding Complete
COVID-19 Summary: This is a class action lawsuit over labor conditions in the Adelanto Detention Center. The plaintiffs filed a motion for a temporary restraining order on April 6, 2020, requesting relief from work for class members, or adequate protective clothing, antiseptic supplies, and testing, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The judge ... [view]
5 Chen v. GEO
3:17-cv-05769-RJB (W.D. Wash.)
Filed 09/26/2017 - Case Ongoing
The GEO Group, Inc.
The GEO Group, Inc.
Immigration and/or the Border
Criminal Justice (Other)
CJ-WA-0006
Coding Complete
On September 26, 2017, a former immigrant detainee of the Northwest Detention Center filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The case was assigned to Judge Robert J. Bryan. The plaintiff sued The GEO Group, Inc. (GEO), the for-profit corporation that operated the detention center, under state law, ... [view]
6 Washington v. GEO
3:17-cv-05806-RJB (W.D. Wash.)
Filed 09/20/2017 - Case Ongoing
The GEO Group, Inc.
Immigration and/or the Border
Criminal Justice (Other)
CJ-WA-0005
Tacoma
Coding Complete
This case addressed whether a Washington State minimum wage law applied to immigration detainees. The state of Washington filed suit in the Pierce County Superior Court on September 20, 2017. The defendant was the GEO Group, Inc., a for-profit corporation that operated the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC). Washington had two causes of action ... [view]
7 Owino v. CoreCivic, Inc.
3:17-cv-01112 (S.D. Cal.)
Filed 05/31/2017 - Case Ongoing
CoreCivic, Inc.
CoreCivic, Inc.
Immigration and/or the Border
IM-CA-0148
Nashville
Coding Complete
This entry is a combination of two cases (Owino v. CoreCivic, Inc. and Gonzalez v. CoreCivic, Inc.), which have been effectively combined into one class action. Owino was filed by former immigration detainees on May 31, 2017 as a putative class action in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. The plaintiffs sued ... [view]
8 Menocal v. The GEO Group, Inc.
1:14-cv-02887-JLK (D. Colo.)
Filed 10/22/2014 - Case Ongoing
The GEO Group, Inc.
Immigration and/or the Border
IM-CO-0009
Boca Raton
Coding Complete
On October 22, 2014, current and former civil immigration detainees housed at the Aurora Detention Facility filed this class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. The plaintiffs sued The GEO Group, Inc., a private company that provides detention and correction services under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act ( ... [view]
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