Immigration Law

Lawsuit Against GEO Group Moves Forward

Mike Carter, Seattle Times, May 13, 2019

"A federal judge has struck down defenses offered by the private company that runs the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, opening the way for the state to force The GEO Group to turn over profits to compensate immigration detainees and start to pay them minimum wage, rather than the $1 a day the company has paid up until now.

U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan granted a motion filed by the office of Attorney General Bob Ferguson to dismiss a series of so-called “affirmative defenses” posed by the company that would have blocked Ferguson’s lawsuit, ruling that the lawsuit was not untimely. Bryan also found that the attorney general did not act with “unclean hands” — meaning the lawsuit was not filed in bad faith —  and said it was not a defense that the AG did not include Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) in the lawsuit. ICE is the agency that hired GEO to run the center, and L&I enforces the state’s Minimum Wage Act.

The ruling, issued Monday, is the latest blow to the private company trying to defend itself against a lawsuit filed by Ferguson in 2017, asking the court to force GEO to comply with the state’s Minimum Wage Act. GEO has owned and operated the 1,575-bed NWDC since 2005 under a contract with ICE."