A federal judge in Denver last week certified a class action lawsuit against GEO Group claiming the unfair treatment of detainees in its Aurora immigrant detention facility.
The lawsuit includes claims that the facility used forced labor under threat of solitary confinement and paid detainees in its voluntary work program $1 per day. According to a press release from the law firms representing the plaintiff class, the class certification is the first of its kind.
Judge John Kane on Feb. 27 certified the class, which could contain as many as 60,000 immigrants who were detained at the GEO facility for the forced labor claim and approximately 2,000 for claims regarding the unjust enrichment through its voluntary work program. The class groups include current and former detainees going back 10 years; some are now legal residents of the U.S.
The lawsuit was filed with three claims, but Kane narrowed the scope to two: a violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and a claim that GEO unjustly enriched itself by underpaying detainees who participated in its voluntary work program.