New Mexico Whistleblower Laws

Whistleblower laws of New Mexico

A Summary of New Mexico Whistleblower Laws

The state of New Mexico follows the employment-at-will doctrine. This means it is legal for employers to dismiss their employees for any reason or no reason. However, there are several exceptions to this rule that is used to protect employees. They include common law protections and statutory protections. Common law protections are laws that are created by courts to address areas that are not covered by enacted laws whereas statutory protections are laws that are enacted by the state’s legislature to cover specific subject areas, e.g., workers’ compensation.

This is a summary of New Mexico Whistleblower Laws, make sure to check out the Federal Whistleblower Laws as well.

Whistleblower Rights in New Mexico

Common Law Protections for Whistleblowers in New Mexico

New Mexico has a public policy that is recognized as an exception to the employment-at-will doctrine. Employers are not allowed to discharge an employee for reasons that violate the state’s public policy. To determine whether an employee is eligible for protection under public policy, the courts usually look at prior judicial opinions, statutory protections, and common law protections that address cases that are similar to the employee’s case. For example, if a statute endorses a worker’s right to collect workers’ compensation, an employer who discharges an employee in retaliation for exercising such a right may be found guilty of violating public policy. Generally, employees who engage in the following activities are eligible for protection under the state’s public policy:

  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim.
  • Reporting dangerous working conditions to the relevant authorities.
  • Reporting a waste of federal funds.
  • Reporting suspected illegal activities.

Statutory Protections for Whistleblowers in New Mexico

Whistleblower Protection Act

Public employers are not allowed to in any way retaliate against a public employee for:

  • Disclosing unlawful or improper acts to the public employer or to a third party.
  • Providing information or testifying before a public body conducting an investigation, hearing, or inquiry into an unlawful or improper act.
  • Objecting to or refusing to participate in unlawful or improper acts.

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 10-16C-3.

Human Rights Act

No person or employer is allowed to threaten or in any way discriminate against a person in retaliation for:

  • Opposing discriminatory practices.
  • Filing a complaint under this act.
  • Testifying or participating in a proceeding concerning the Human Rights Act.

The human rights act forbids any person from preventing an individual from complying with the Human Rights Act. Under this act, discrimination based on race, religion, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, spousal affiliation, or physical or mental handicap is considered unlawful discriminatory practice. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 28-1-7(I).

Fraud Against Taxpayers Act

Under this act, employers are not allowed to discharge, threaten, alter terms of employment, suspend, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Disclosing information concerning fraud to a government or law enforcement agency.
  • Participating in an action that is related to the Fraud Against Taxpayers Act.

Also, employers are not allowed to adopt policies, rules, or regulations that prevent employees from providing information to the appropriate agency or participating in an action concerning this act. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 44-9-11.

Medicaid Fraud

It is illegal for employers to discharge, threaten, demote, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Disclosing information concerning Medicaid fraud to the Human Services Department.
  • Participating in an action concerning Medicaid fraud.

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 27-14-12.

Mining Safety Act

Employers are not allowed to discharge, refuse to hire, or in any way discriminate against an individual in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint concerning a safety and health violation in a mine with the operator or state mine inspector.
  • Instituting or causing the institution of a proceeding under this act.
  • Testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding under this act.

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 69-8-17.

Occupational Health and Safety Act

No person or employer is allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint under this act.
  • Instituting or causing the institution of proceeding under this act.
  • Testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding under this act.
  • Exercising a right afforded by this act on behalf of himself, herself, or others.

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 50-9-25.

Radiation Protection Act

No person or employer is allowed to discharge or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for:

  • Filing a complaint under this act.
  • Instituting a proceeding under this act.
  • Testifying or intending to testify in a proceeding under this act.
  • Exercising a right endorsed by this act on behalf of himself, herself, or others.

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 74-3-16.

Workers’ Compensation

Employers are not allowed to discharge, threaten, alter terms of employment, or in any way discriminate against an employee in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim. N.M. Stat. Ann. § 52-1-28.2.

Whistleblower Retaliation Claims in New Mexico

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, wrongful retaliation claims should be filed with the appropriate court within 4 years of the retaliatory action.

Occupational Health and Safety

Complaints under this act should be filed with the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (OHSB) within 30 days of the retaliatory action.

Human Rights Act

Complaints under this act should be filed with the New Mexico Department of Labor, Human Rights Bureau within 300 days of the retaliatory action.

Whistleblower Protection Act

Actions under this act should be filed within 2 years of the retaliatory action.

Whistleblower Hotlines in New Mexico

To file a complaint with the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Bureau, call 505-476-8700.

To file a complaint with the New Mexico Department of Labor, Human Rights Bureau, call 505-827-6838.

Whistleblower Retaliation and Violation Penalties in New Mexico

Unless stated otherwise by a statute, employers who carry out wrongful retaliatory actions against an employee or individual may be liable to the aggrieved employee or individual for a combination or any of the following:

  • Actual damages.
  • Reinstatement with the same seniority status.
  • Two times the amount of back pay.
  • Interest on back pay.
  • Compensation for special damages.
  • Litigation costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

Workers’ Compensation

Employers who discharge an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim will be required to rehire that employee, provided the employee agrees to be rehired. Also, the employer may be liable for a civil penalty not exceeding $5000 per violation.

Whistleblower Protection Act

Employers who violate this act may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Actual damages.
  • Reinstatement with the same seniority status.
  • Two times the amount of back pay.
  • Interest on back pay.
  • Compensation for special damages.
  • Litigation costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

Fraud Against Taxpayers Act

Employers who violate this act may be liable to the aggrieved employee for:

  • Actual damages.
  • Reinstatement with the same seniority status.
  • Two times the amount of back pay.
  • Interest on back pay.
  • Compensation for special damages.
  • Punitive damages.
  • Litigation costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees.

More New Mexico Laws

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