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Two Racketeer Lawsuits Filed in Georgia

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Two separate but similar racketeer lawsuits have been filed in Georgia

Atlanta, GATwo separate but similar lawsuits have been filed by Mexican professionals in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia alleging racketeering and other labor violations. Jorge Oswaldo Aquino Martinez in August 2022 accused auto parts manufacturer Hyundai, a labor recruiter and staffing agency of bringing himself and other Mexican nationals to the U.S. under false pretenses. In March 2022 Jaime Obregon Acosta filed a complaint alleging that the auto body parts maker SMART Alabama, LLC violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

Martinez et al. v. Mobis Alabama

Engineer and electromagnetics technician Jorge Oswaldo Aquino Martinez in August 2022 filed suit against Kia, Hyundai and staffing firms, accusing them:

  • Lying to hundreds of colleagues about professional-level jobs in the U.S., i.e., they had been specifically promised engineering rather than factory floor work
  • Paying fellow Mexican and Hispanic workers far less than their white counterparts
  • Requiring above workers to work longer hours.

The case is Martinez et al. v. Mobis Alabama LLC et al., case number 3:22-cv-00145.

Obregon v. SMART

In January 2020, Obregon saw an AGWM United job posting for a Quality Control Engineer. In September 2020 Woon (Andy) Kim, the attorney at WK Law Group (a Georgia immigration law firm) emailed Obregon on behalf of AGWM, a recruiting agency, that he was offered a position as a Quality Engineer at SMART for one year with an annual salary of $38,000. According to the Obregon’s lawsuit, AGWM and SMART representatives knew Mr. Obregon would not work as a Quality Engineer at SMART. Obregon came to Alabama from Mexico on a TN visa in October of that year to work for SMART.

Obregon, who holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering and a master's degree in business administration, applied for the nonimmigrant TN visa, which was created under the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement to allow certain Mexican and Canadian professionals, including engineers, to temporarily work in the U.S. in their field.

In his class action lawsuit Obregon accuses SMART Alabama and AGWM United, LLC of misleading federal immigration systems and violating the Civil Rights Act by providing much lower hourly wages compared to American workers on the same assembly lines. According to the lawsuit, over about three years the defendants:
  • Cheated the U.S. immigration system by unlawfully employing Mexican nationals on an auto parts production line in Alabama and paying them wages that were lower than U.S. citizens workers doing the same work
  • Told the government the workers would be employed as engineers, rather than as assembly line workers to secure TN visas for the Mexican nationals
  • Once in Alabama, the Mexican nationals had to work horrendously long hours on the production line at hourly wages that were a fraction of what the U.S. citizens on the same line.

According to AGWM’s website, it “recruits qualified TN visa candidates who are allowed to work in the United States. We offer the best human resources services for aerospace, automotive and manufacturing companies across the United States. SMART currently produces parts for Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama (HMMA).

Obregon states that the defendants made misrepresentations to both the U.S. government and hundreds of applicants like himself, who were duped by the fraudulent job postings in the "bait and switch" conspiracy.

In April 2023 WK Law Group urged the court to dismiss it from Obregon’s racketeering and legal malpractice suit related to the allegedly illegal hiring scheme, because the engineer hasn't linked the firm to the scheme and can't sue it for successfully handling his visa application. As well, Obregon’s legal malpractice complaint doesn't fulfill the requirement of state law because it doesn't include an affidavit by an expert competent to testify and outline at least one negligent act or omission, WK Law said, as reported by Law360. It added that his claim fails because it obtained the TN visa for Obregon as he requested.

Obregon brings his RICO claims against AGWM and SMART on behalf of himself and all individuals who, between March 28, 2018 and the present, were recruited by AGWM ; received wages from SMART; and were TN visa holders.

The case is Acosta v. SMART Alabama LLC et al., case number 22-cv-01209.


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