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Immigration Law

Class Action Against CoreCivic Certified: Owino v. CoreCivic

Bianca Bruno, CNS, Apr. 1, 2020

"Private detention company CoreCivic must face a novel employment class action by immigrants held at its facilities in California and nationwide, a federal judge ruled Wednesday in certifying forced labor claims against the private prison operator.

U.S. District Judge Janis Sammartino found in a 59-page order that several classes could pursue their class action labor claims against CoreCivic.

Former detainees Sylvester Owino and Jonathan Gomez sued CoreCivic – formerly known as Corrections Corporation of America – in 2017, alleging the private prison operator violated federal and state labor laws by using detainees “to clean, maintain, and operate” the Otay Mesa Detention Facility in San Diego while paying detainees between $0.75 and $1.50 a day for their work.

The plaintiffs sought to certify five separate classes.

Sammartino certified three of them Wednesday: the California and National Forced Labor Classes, as well as the California Labor Law Class on several causes of action including failure to pay minimum wage or provide wage statements, failure to pay all wages due upon termination and imposition of unlawful conditions of employment.

The certified classes include immigrant detainees presently held in CoreCivic facilities.

Both the California and National Forced Labor Classes were certified in their entirety."