Trial to determine if GEO must pay detainees minimum wage

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SEATTLE (AP) — After nearly four years of litigation and pandemic-related delays, a trial is underway to determine whether the GEO Group must pay minimum wage to detainees who perform cooking, cleaning and other tasks at its Northwest immigration detention center in Washington state. The detainees are typically paid $1 per day for cleaning, cooking and other tasks. Attorney General Bob Ferguson and some detainees sued in 2017, arguing that the company’s contract with the federal government requires it to follow state and local laws — including Washington’s Minimum Wage Act — and GEO unjustly profited by paying so little. The company says the detainees are not employees and that the work is voluntary.

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