Private Immigration Prison Must Face Forced Labor Claims as Class Action Against CoreCivic Certified

Robert Teel has been appointed by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California as class co-counsel for a first of its kind nationwide forced labor class action case. The Court found that Mr. Teel and his co-counsel “will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class” and “are well qualified, have significant experience in prosecuting complex litigation cases, and have previously been certified as class counsel in a class action involving claims against a prison technology company on behalf of detainees/prisoners.”

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.”

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