SMART Alabama, AGWM ‘Cheated’ U.S. Immigration System in Hiring Mexican TN Visa Holders, Class Action Alleges
Acosta v. SMART Alabama, LLC et al.
Filed: March 27, 2022 ◆§ 1:22-cv-01209
A class action alleges SMART Alabama and AGWM United have for years “cheated the United States immigration system” to employ Mexican nationals as underpaid auto parts production line workers.
A proposed class action alleges SMART Alabama, LLC and AGWM United, LLC have for years “cheated the United States immigration system” to employ Mexican nationals as underpaid auto parts production line workers.
The 38-page lawsuit alleges SMART Alabama, an auto parts maker, and AGWM United, a staffing services group, lied to the federal government to secure TN visas for the individuals by claiming they would be employed as engineers, not as assembly line workers. Once in Alabama, the Mexican nationals hired by the defendants found themselves working “horrendously long hours” for wages that amounted to a fraction of the pay received by U.S. citizens on the same production line for the same work, the complaint claims.
The lawsuit alleges the defendants’ treatment of Mexican workers in comparison to U.S. employees amounts to discrimination on the basis of race and alienage.
According to the lawsuit, the United States government, as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, created the TN nonimmigrant classification, which permits Mexican and Canadian professionals in certain occupations, including engineers, to temporarily enter the country for employment. Once a TN visa applicant has provided the required evidence to federal officials, they may be admitted to the country under the TN visa classification for a period of up to three years, the suit says.
Per the complaint, a TN visa holder is tied to a particular employer for the duration of the three years, unless the individual petitions United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) to add or change employers.
The case states, however, that oversight of the working conditions for TN visa holders in the U.S. is “largely unregulated” and, as a consequence, multiple reports of abuse have surfaced. These include claims of misrepresented employment contracts, the lawsuit says.
The plaintiff, a resident of Mexico who holds a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering and a master’s degree in business, began working for SMART in October 2020, the complaint relays. The man alleges that at the time he began communicating with SMART and AGWM about working for the former, AGWM knew that the auto parts maker would misrepresent to the government that he would be employed as an “industrial quality engineer,” rather than a production line worker.
The plaintiff also alleges AGWM management knew and intentionally omitted the fact that the misrepresentation to the government would likely impact his future eligibility for a green card.
The lawsuit says that when the “quality engineer” job offer was officially sent to the plaintiff, the defendants knew he would not be working in that role.
According to the complaint, the defendants engaged in “similar separate fraudulent acts” with regard to recruiting and employing “dozens” of Mexican TN visa holders between 2019 and the present.
The lawsuit looks to represent all individuals who, between March 28, 2018 and the present, were recruited by AWGN, received wages from SMART and were TN visa holders.
The suit alleges SMART and AWGN have violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Get class action lawsuit news sent to your inbox – sign up for ClassAction.org’s free weekly newsletter here.
Camp Lejeune residents now have the opportunity to claim compensation for harm suffered from contaminated water.
Read more here: Camp Lejeune Lawsuit Claims
Sign Up For
New cases and investigations, settlement deadlines, and news straight to your inbox.
Before commenting, please review our comment policy.