OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Sept. 20 that his office has sued the GEO Group Inc. (GEO) for failing to pay proper minimum wage to its workers.
GEO is the second-largest private prison provider in the United States. According to Ferguson’s office, the company paid thousands of immigration detainees only $1 per day for work performed in the facility.
The alleged scheme has been ongoing since 2005, at the facility GEO runs in Washington, the Tacoma’s Northwest Detention Center, the attorney general alleges.
“A multi-billion-dollar corporation is trying to get away with paying its workers $1 per day,” Ferguson said. “That shouldn’t happen in America, and I will not tolerate it happening in Washington. For-profit companies cannot exploit Washington workers.”
Ferguson alleges GEO is violating the state’s minimum wage laws. In RCW 49.46.010(k), the state exempts select groups from being protected -- residents, inmates, or patients of a state, county or municipal correctional, detention, treatment or rehabilitative institution. These exceptions, however, do not extend to for-profit facilities like NWDC.
“The bottom line is that a fair wage should be paid for a day of work,” said Joel Sacks, director of the state Department of Labor and Industries.