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Posts Tagged ‘Attorney General’

Another Day, Another Dollar: Private Detention Center Sued By Detainees for Violations of the Washington Minimum Wage Act

Posted on: August 9th, 2018

By: Layli Eskandari Deal

A lawsuit filed by thousands of detained immigrants held at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, Washington alleges systematic wage theft by GEO Group, Inc.  The Plaintiffs seek to recover wages under the Washington Minimum Wage Act, as well as other damages allowable under State law.

GEO Group, Inc. has owned and operated the NWDC, which has 1,500 beds for immigrants, since 2005.  The lawsuit alleges that “rather than hire from local workforce, GEO relies upon “captive detainee workers to clean, maintain, and operate NWDC.”  It further states that “GEO’s NWDC Detainee Handbook describes detainee work assignments as including kitchen and laundry work, as well as recreation/library/barber and janitorial services.  The Handbook refers to these various tasks as ‘work’ and a ‘job,’ and references ‘wages earned’ by detainee ‘workers.’”

The Plaintiffs asked the Federal District Court for class certification.  Judge Robert Bryan of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington determined that the detained immigrants have an “employment relationship with GEO.”  The Judge determined that the group of detained immigrants all participate in a volunteer program at NWDC and allege the same “injury,” which is that they are only paid a $1 per day for work, “an amount not commensurate” with the law.  The Judge granted certification for the Plaintiffs to proceed as a class.

In addition to the Federal lawsuit, the State of Washington has also brought a lawsuit against GEO Group, Inc. in the State Superior Court that alleges GEO is violating the State’s minimum wage laws.  The Attorney General for the State of Washington, Bob Ferguson, stated, “A multi-billion dollar corporation is trying to get away with paying its workers $1 per day. That shouldn’t happen in America, and I will not tolerate it happening in Washington. For-profit companies cannot exploit Washington workers.”

Multiple lawsuits have been filed against private prisons, including GEO and others, over detainee pay and other issues. The lawsuits allege that the private prison giants use voluntary work programs to violate state minimum wage laws, the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, unjust enrichment and other labor statutes.  The outcome of these cases will have significant effect on the way prison systems treat and compensate detained workers.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Layli Eskandari Deal of the law firm of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].

The CCPA: Precursor To American GDPR Or Undue Burden On American Businesses

Posted on: July 30th, 2018

By: Jonathan Romvary

As we recently posted, California recently passed the landmark California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (“CCPA”) that goes into effect on January 1, 2020 and grants California residents new expansive privacy rights. Many observers are comparing its scope to that of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”). However, as protective as the new statute may be for California residents, it represents a number of significant burdens and challenges for businesses throughout the country.

Unknown Final Requirements

Despite what appears to be a finalized bill, future amendments and clarifications to the CCPA are necessary and will likely significantly alter the current draft. The CCPA was enacted after a single week of legislative debate. The reasons for the quick turnaround can be debated but the current draft contains a number of errors that will need to be addressed before its effective date on January 1, 2020. The uncertainty surrounding the bill means that businesses attempting to be proactive in terms of compliance may be throwing darts in the dark.

Attorney General Regulations

Additionally, the bill instructs the California Attorney General to develop regulations ahead of the effective data in a number of areas to further the purposes of the CCPA. While its arguable whether this will provide greater protections to consumers, it will undoubtedly come at the burden of those businesses covered by the CCPA. At this time these specific AG regulations are unknown and with an upcoming election, there is no guarantee we will know what these regulations will be until late next year before implementation.

Compliance Burn Out

As we all know, the GDPR went into effect on May 25, 2018. Most companies have spent the last year conducting data flow analysis, mapping, and regulatory compliance in order to come into compliance prior to the effective date. According to an October 2017 survey by Paul Hastings LLP, the cost of GDPR compliance for Fortune 500 firms runs approximately $1 million just for the necessary technology that those companies need to comply.

Unfortunately for all of those companies that spent the last 12 to 18 months traversing GDPR compliance, you will not automatically be complying with the CCPA. The CCPA requirements, while similar, do not entirely overlap with the GDPR and, in many cases, the CCPA goes even further than the GDPR. All those companies will now need to engage in an additional 18 months of legal compliance reviews in anticipation of the January 1, 2020 implementation date.

The scope of the CCPA affects businesses across the country, not just those in California. The CCPA protections generally encompasses all retail and commercial activity that includes the collection of data relating to a resident of California which retained, sold or transferred by the business. While the CCPA contains numerous exemptions of data use and functionality these exceptions require close scrutiny and analysis by covered businesses. To discuss how the CCPA might affect your business and what you can do in anticipation of the numerous issues relating to the act, please contact Jonathan Romvary at [email protected].

Puff, Puff, Veto!

Posted on: January 10th, 2018

By: Jason C. Dineros

This past Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era’s relaxations for federal prosecutors of marijuana enforcement. This comes only four days into California’s open recreational use market, and potentially halts what has grown into a niche legal practice as well as a concerted training effort among hospitality operators over the almost five years the federal enforcement relaxations have been in place.

The Obama Administration’s federal enforcement relaxations for marijuana use in 2013, brought with it the development of a viable market industry from what was previously looked upon as taboo—akin to “that stoner stage you went through in high school, but grew out of.” As start-ups were popping up wanting to be frontrunners in an industry that had as much anticipation as whiskey distilleries in the years that followed prohibition, so did the need for legal consultation and representation.  No longer was the idea of marijuana dispensaries becoming as common as corner liquor stores still a far too laughable dream (or overly paranoid nightmare, depending on your take); and concepts such as edible bakeries, “weed lounges,” and cannabis-friendly restaurants were likewise materializing into reality.

But how does an attorney provide advice regarding the sale and distribution of a product that is illegal under federal law, but for all intents and purposes, permitted in 29 different states? Well the fallback rule that developed under the Obama Administration’s relaxations, at least from an ethical perspective, was that providing legal services to the cannabis industry was permissible so long as it did not violate state law.  And with this came an influx in the practice of cannabis law in 29 of the 50 states.

Further expanding to the social aspect of recreational marijuana, while any experienced bartender has likely taught or learned how and when to cut off an overly-imbibed guest, what protocols are in place for training “budtenders”? And even more importantly, for hospitality operators engaged in operations across different states, how can there be any uniform standard operating procedures when what is a legally viable source of potential revenue in one state, can expose the business to significant fines and potential closure in another?  Simply put, until the states begin to react one way or another to Attorney General Sessions’ heightened federal enforcement regulations, the cannabis industry remains one of the most potentially lucrative, risky, and unnavigated industries still in its infancy among the entrepreneurs, attorneys, and hospitality operators involved.

For further information or for further inquiries involving professional liability, commercial liability, or hospitality law, you may contact Jason C. Dineros, the Chair of the Hospitality Law Practice Team of Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP, at [email protected].