Mistrial Interrupts Minimum Wage Case for Immigrant Detainees
U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan of Tacoma declared a mistrial this Thursday after the jury failed to come to agreement. The case was raised against GEO Group over wage concerns. The group was paying immigrant detainees only $1 a day for tasks like cooking and cleaning at its for-profit detention center in Washington State. It was Democratic Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson that sued the company in 2017, demanding the Florida-based group pay detainees the minimum wage. A separate lawsuit also demanded back pay. Geo Group argued that the detainees were not employees under the Washington Minimum Wage Act. It also said it would be unlawfully discriminatory for the state to mandate Geo Group to pay the minimum wage when the state does not pay the same to its own inmates.
The immigrant detention center that Geo Group operates is one of the largest in the country. It generated $18.6 million in profits in 2018, while it would only cost $3.4 million to pay the detainees a minimum wage. This failure to pay workers fairly is unjust, and reveals the inherent greed of for-profit detention centers.