On January 16, 2020, the New Mexico Supreme Court issued its decision in Mendoza v. Isleta Resort and Casino, holding that a tribe does not waive its sovereign immunity to workers’ compensation claims merely by committing in a tribal gaming compact1 to establish a workers’ compensation program. Tribal employers that negotiate gaming compacts will find this case of interest.
Articles About New Mexico Labor And Employment Law.
On October 15, 2019, the Bernalillo County, New Mexico Commissioners voted to amend their mandatory paid time off (PTO) ordinance, enacted only two months earlier. As we previously reported, the ordinance will require certain employers with a physical premise in the county’s unincorporated limits to provide PTO that employees can use for any reason beginning July 1, 2020.
On August 20, 2019, the Bernalillo County, New Mexico Commissioners enacted the “Employee Wellness Act,” which, though originally styled as a paid sick leave law, as amended requires covered employers to provide paid time off (PTO) that employees can use for any reason. The ordinance, effective July 1, 2020, becomes the first generally applicable local mandatory PTO law, continuing a trend recently created at the state level in Maine and Nevada.
The patchwork of paid leave laws around the country is getting increasingly more intricate as local governments adopt mandatory paid time off laws. This week, Bernalillo County, New Mexico added its patch adopting the first paid time off ordinance in New Mexico. Beginning on July 1, 2020, the Employee Wellness Act will require employers within the unincorporated limits of Bernalillo County to permit most employees to accrue paid time off and use that paid time off for any reason. While the ordinance was originally considered earlier this summer as a more traditional paid sick leave law, it was amended to allow for employees to use the time off for “any reason.” The County is following what looks to be a trend started by Maine and Nevada which both passed laws this summer allowing employees to use mandatory accrued paid time off for any reason.
Executive Summary: On April 3, 2019, New Mexico expanded the state’s “Ban the Box” law to include private employers. “Ban the Box” is a nationwide effort to eliminate the checkbox on employment applications inquiring into applicants’ criminal history. Over the last few years, thirty-four states have joined the movement to “Ban the Box.” Among these states, twelve – California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington – as well as the District of Columbia have passed Ban the Box laws for private employers. In a press release, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said “[i]t is our responsibility to ensure that we create a pathway for individuals to contribute to our economy and to our communities.” This seems to be the consensus among more than 150 cities which have also enacted their own version of Ban the Box laws.
New Mexico is the latest state to adopt statewide legislation prohibiting private employers from making inquiries into an applicant’s criminal history on the initial employment application. The state also enacted legislation prohibiting employers from asking applicants for information about a criminal record that has been sealed or expunged.
New Mexico’s state legislature has been busy over the past few weeks acting on bills introduced earlier this year. The state has enacted at least nine new laws affecting employers, covering many topics from health care access and medical marijuana, to criminal background checks. Unless otherwise noted, these new provisions take effect on June 14, 2019, leaving New Mexico employers just a few months to prepare for compliance.
The New Mexico medical marijuana law has been amended to provide employment protections to employees and applicants. The amendments were signed into law by the governor on April 4, 2019.
On April 1, 2019, New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham (D) signed Senate Bill (SB) 437, which amends the New Mexico Minimum Wage Act (MWA) by increasing the state minimum wage, increasing the minimum cash wage for tipped employees, and revising tip pool standards.
By Shawn Oller and Chris Suffecool on January 3, 2019
The New Mexico Court of Appeals held in Wolinsky v. New Mexico Corrections Department1 that the state Fair Pay for Women Act’s definition of “employer” extends to the State of New Mexico and its agencies. In doing so, the Court of Appeals rejected defendant’s arguments that (1) the Legislature did not intend to subject the state to the statute’s requirements; and (2) that the “general grant of immunity” in the New Mexico Tort Claims Act applies, granting sovereign immunity to the state for any Fair Pay for Women Act (FPWA) claims. The New Mexico Supreme Court denied certiorari. This denial leaves the court of appeals decision as the controlling precedent unless the Supreme Court reconsiders the issue in a future case.
In Garcia v. Hatch Valley Public Schools, the New Mexico Supreme Court recently examined whether a plaintiff has a relatively heightened evidentiary burden in proving a reverse discrimination claim brought under the New Mexico Human Rights Act. The court held that a plaintiff in a “so-called reverse discrimination case” has the same evidentiary burden as does a “minority” plaintiff asserting a claim of discrimination under the Act. The decision in Garcia impacts all companies with four or more employees in New Mexico.
On April 6, 2017, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez signed HB 15, making New Mexico the 48th state to enact a data breach notification law. The law has an effective date of June 16, 2017 and follows the same general structure of many of the breach notification laws in other states.
In Ramirez v. State of N.M. Children, Youth and Families Department, filed on April 14, 2016, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that a New Mexico National Guard member could assert a claim against the state as the employer under the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA). The ruling reversed the decision of the New Mexico Court of Appeals, which had held that state employers were immune to such suits, and reinstated the trial court’s judgment and award in favor of the employee. The decision in Ramirez impacts New Mexico State employers, which the New Mexico Supreme Court determined can be held liable under USERRA.
Must a New Mexico employer allow an employee to use medical marijuana as a reasonable accommodation for the employee’s disability? “No,” according to a New Mexico federal district court. On January 7, 2016, the court held that New Mexico’s medical marijuana statute and the New Mexico Human Rights Act do not require employers to accommodate medical marijuana use.
A federal court in New Mexico dismissed the lawsuit of an employee who was fired after testing positive for marijuana, even though he used medical marijuana in accordance with state law. Garcia v. Tractor Supply Company, No. 15-cv-00735 (D.N.M. Jan. 7, 2016). The Court held that the employer did not violate New Mexico law or public policy by terminating a new hire for failing a drug test due to the employee’s medical marijuana use. The Court’s decision followed the holdings of similar cases in California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon and Washington. Like those cases, the Court held that employers in New Mexico are under no duty to accommodate the use of medical marijuana by employees.