FORMER PENNSYLVANIA CIVIL DETAINEES COMBAT FORCED LABOR: Burrell v. Lackawanna Recycling Center, Inc. et al.

Complaint charges that civilly detained child support debtors are forced to work in dangerous recycling center for $5.00 a day. Former detainees are asking for damages and a change of policy.

Three former civil detainees of Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania filed a proposed class action complaint alleging that the County, the private company that owns and operates the Lackawanna County Recycling Center, and other private and public defendants forced hundreds of child support debtors in Lackawanna County to work at the Recycling Center for $5.00 per day under atrocious conditions. The Plaintiffs allege that the Defendants extracted their nearly-free labor by requiring them to work in the Center as a condition of eligibility for work release programs, under which they would have been able to earn money to support their children. The alleged conduct, which Plaintiffs allege violates vital protections against slavery and indentured servitude, allowed public agencies and private corporations and their owners to reap profits from the labor of captive and exploited workers. Plaintiffs are seeking damages and asking that the Defendants change their policy.

This case is part of a broader fight against forced and coerced labor in the criminal and civil justice systems. Towards Justice is proud to support these former detainees, along with co-counsel from Community Justice Project and Handley Farah & Anderson.

Case Documents


Press Release: Former Detainees Challenge Forced Labor Practices



The Times Tribune: TRASH FOR CASH, County solicitor: Halting of inmate labor at recycling center won’t impact pending lawsuit

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Fighting Forced Labor in Private Immigrant Detention Centers: Menocal et al v. GEO Group Inc.

Towards Justice fights to end labor trafficking whether in the form of individualized cruelty or systemic, structural coercion. In 2014, together with co-counsel, Towards Justice filed a class action lawsuit against the GEO Group, Inc. (GEO), which operates a 1,500 bed immigrant detention facility in Aurora, CO.

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In The Courtroom

Our litigators help workers advance legal claims that address systemic injustice. We use antitrust, anti-slavery, fraud, wage-and-hour, and common-law challenges to address the wide variety of practices that nickel-and-dime low-wage workers out of their hard-earned wages. We have represented a hundred thousand childcare workers alleging wage suppression, tens of thousands of immigrant detainees alleging forced labor, and hundreds of construction workers, shepherds, manicurists, janitors, and kitchen hood cleaners. We are leaders in challenging anti-competitive practices that reduce worker bargaining power and support marginalized people who challenge structural impediments to their advancement.

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