Detainees Granted Permission to Continue With Forced-Labor Lawsuit

The United States Court of Appeals decided on Friday that ‘class certification’ for individuals that were forced to clean areas of a detention center while being detained by immigration officials should be upheld.

The Denver Post reports that the same class certification was upheld for individuals that provided voluntary work services for $1 a day.

The detainees, who are being held in Aurora, Colorado had their case heard by the 10th U.S. district court which is based in Denver. The argument on the part of the detainees was that the 62,000 member forced-labor class was threatened by a range of punishments including solitary confinement if not willingly cleaning the facilities for no compensation.

Legal representatives for the detainees say that this action is in violation of a federal law known as the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

The second class of plaintiffs numbers approximately 2000 inmates that say they performed various duties for $1 a day when they as a group was not entitled to leave the facility to seek other employment. The class argues that the Geo Group, who was in charge of running the facility, were allowed to unlawfully enrich themselves due to not having to pay workers a lawful minimum wage for the state of Colorado.

The Geo Group made its argument by pointing out that the class designation granted the detainees is in error due to the fact each individual must demonstrate that they were forced to free or inexpensive labor.

The court was in disagreement with Geo Group stating that the claims of all members of the class followed the same general theory in that each member was forced work under threats of suffering negative consequences if not completing cleaning duties.

A statement by Outten & Golden, a law firm representing the detainees, expressed optimism at the fact that the ruling by the court will allow their clients to challenge the practice the Geo has enjoyed for some time now of exploiting the labor of detainees while also receiving money from taxpayers to house them.