Webinar: Strategic Litigation Forced Labor in For Profit Immigration Detention Facilities

Webinar: Strategic Litigation Forced Labor in For Profit Immigration Detention Facilities

Webinar: Strategic Litigation Forced Labor in For Profit Immigration Detention Facilities

In recent years, individuals held in for-profit immigrant detention centers across the United States have filed cases alleging forced labor, unjust enrichment, and human trafficking. These cases are now moving into heated litigation in the federal courts.  In February 2018, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that one of the cases, Menocal v. GEO Group, may move forward as a class action. The immigration detention cases fall within a larger framework of human trafficking litigation against municipalities, “rehabilitation” programs, and “alternatives to detention” schemes.  Co-sponsored by the Freedom Network, this webinar will address strategic litigation brought by detainees, placing these cases in the larger context of the anti-trafficking movement and the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

View the full recording of the webinar here.


David Lopez, Partner, Outten & Golden

David Lopez is a Partner at Outten and Golden and the attorney-in-charge at the firm’s Washington, DC office.  Mr. Lopez is Co-chair of the Discrimination & Retaliation Practice Group. Mr. Lopez served as General Counsel of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) from April 8, 2010 until December 9, 2016 – the longest serving General Counsel of the agency.

Mr. Lopez was nominated twice by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate in 2010 and 2014.  Mr. Lopez is the first EEOC field trial attorney to be appointed as the agency’s General Counsel.  As General Counsel, Mr. Lopez was in charge of the Commission’s litigation program, overseeing the agency’s 15 Regional Attorneys and a staff of more than 325 lawyers and legal professionals who conduct or support Commission litigation in district and appellate courts across the country.  He has served at the Commission in various capacities for the past 22 years, including as Supervisory Trial Attorney in the Phoenix District Office and Special Assistant to then-Chairman Gilbert F. Casellas. Mr. Lopez has been a Lecturer-in-Law at Harvard Law School and an Adjunct Professor at the Georgetown Law Center.

Mr. Lopez obtained his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1988 and graduated magna cum laude from Arizona State University in 1985, with a B.S. in Political Science.

Mr. Lopez successfully argued the Menocal v. Geo Group case before the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bryan Lopez, Staff Attorney, Southern Poverty Law Center

Bryan Lopez is a Staff Attorney with the Immigrant Justice Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Prior to that he worked as a trial attorney with the National Labor Relations Board and a private workers’ rights law firm. He graduated from U.C.L.A. with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science in 2009 and from the School of Law at the University of California at Berkeley in 2015. He is a member of the State Bar of California.

Mr. Lopez is on the SPLC team that brought the Barrientos v. CoreCivic case in 2018.

Alexandra Levy, Senior Staff Attorney, The Human Trafficking Legal Center

Alexandra Levy is a senior staff attorney at the Human Trafficking Legal Center, where she directs the Human Trafficking Legal Center’s quantitative research on federal human trafficking cases. She has contributed to numerous reports and resources used by anti-trafficking advocates and attorneys nationwide. Levy also developed and maintains the Human Trafficking Legal Center’s databases of cases brought under the civil and criminal provisions of the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

Levy teaches multiple courses related to human trafficking at the University of Notre Dame Law School, and has a longstanding interest in legal remedies for trafficking victims accused of crimes. Recently, Levy authored the Human Trafficking Legal Center’s Fact Sheet: Human Trafficking & Forced Labor in For-Profit Detention Facilities, Strategic Litigation in U.S. Federal Courts (2018).  Levy has spearheaded amicus briefs in related litigation. Her scholarship focuses on the role of internet intermediaries in trafficking and black markets.

Levy holds a J.D. from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. in religion with a minor in mathematics from New York University, where she graduated cum laude.


Sarah Bessell, Staff Attorney, The Human Trafficking Legal Center

Sarah L. Bessell is a staff attorney at The Human Trafficking Legal Center, where she conducts research on accountability for human trafficking victims. Bessell has a background in international human rights and conflict prevention. She spent time in Cambodia, where she worked in the Office of the International Co-Prosecutor of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal. Prior to this, she worked on international conflict resolution issues at the University for Peace in Ethiopia and at the U.S. Institute of Peace.

Bessell holds a J.D. from the George Washington University Law School and an M.A. (Conflict Resolution) from Georgetown University.