Apr 25, 2019

A company reportedly outsources addiction patients as free labor

It’s not unusual for work to be part of the equation in addiction recovery — a job can provide access to health insurance, and some business owners want to help. But a company called the Cenikor Foundation is turning recovery into unpaid labor, often in unsafe conditions.

Driving the news: Reveal, a project of the Center for Investigative Reporting, pulled back the curtain on Cenikor's practices, which many experts say are likely illegal.

Details: Patients who enter Cenikor's program — sometimes via a court order — are put to work doing physical labor, often in warehouses or on oil platforms for companies like Exxon and Walmart.

  • For the first 18 months of the 2-year program, they don't get to keep any of the money they earn from that work. Cenikor keeps it, as the cost of its program.
  • The company also enrolls its participants in government assistance, including Medicaid and food stamps, rather than paying those costs itself.
  • Patients work up to 80 hours per week, and Cenikor staff routinely cancel treatment appointments to make time for more work, according to Reveal. Some patients go for long stretches with no counseling at all, and sources told Reveal that the company would falsify records to hide that fact.
  • Cenikor's workers often don't get the same safety equipment or other protections that non-Cenikor workers on the same site have.

What they're saying: "I can't fathom this being legitimate," John Meek, a former Labor Department investigator, told Reveal.

Go deeper: We're prescribing opioids less, but for longer

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Situational awareness

Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Mike Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 NDAs
  2. Wells Fargo to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges
  3. Bloomberg campaign says Tennessee vandalism "echoes language" from Bernie supporters
  4. Scoop: New White House personnel chief tells Cabinet liaisons to target Never Trumpers
  5. Nearly half of Republicans support pardoning Roger Stone

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $3 billion to settle consumer abuse charges

Clients use an ATM at a Wells Fargo Bank in Los Angeles, Calif. Photo: Ronen Tivony/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Wells Fargo agreed to a pay a combined $3 billion to the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday for opening millions of fake customer accounts between 2002 and 2016, the SEC said in a press release.

The big picture: The fine "is among the largest corporate penalties reached during the Trump administration," the Washington Post reports.

Bloomberg offers to release women from 3 nondisclosure agreements

Mike Bloomberg. Photo: Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Mike Bloomberg said Friday his company will release women identified to have signed three nondisclosure agreements so they can publicly discuss their allegations against him if they wish.

Why it matters, via Axios' Margaret Talev: Bloomberg’s shift in policy toward NDAs comes as he tries to stanch his loss of female support after the Las Vegas debate. It is an effort to separate the total number of harassment and culture complaints at the large company from those directed at him personally. That could reframe the criticism against him, but also protect the company from legal fallout if all past NDAs were placed in jeopardy.