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New Mexico Civil Rights Act and you: What you need to know

In February of 2021, the New Mexico Civil Rights Act passed in the New Mexico House and headed to the Senate. This was a highly debated act within the House, but what does it mean for the state’s residents?

How does it affect me?

This civil rights act will allow a person to sue any public body if they feel like they have experienced a civil rights violation within that institution. In this case, a public body refers to counties or cities within the state of New Mexico or the state of New Mexico itself.

While the law, of course, applies to every citizen in New Mexico, it does apply more to people who frequently work with government offices or public institutions. This could be through volunteer service, employment or any other means.

What’s changed?

The biggest change has been to qualified immunity. This practice has traditionally kept government institutions and employees from being held accountable if they’re accused of committing a civil rights violation against a member of the public, an employee or a fellow coworker.

Under this new law, the institution, rather than the individual employee who committed the civil rights violation, would be sued. This allows for larger payouts and a more thorough accountability system for the institution that employed the offending employee in the first place.

Should you consult a lawyer?

If you’re an employee or an employer of a public institution and you’re worried about the consequences of this law, you’re not alone. Your workplace will be able to help you understand what changes this law will bring to your day-to-day. If you’ve been accused of discrimination or harassment, or you’ve experienced it firsthand, reach out to an experienced New Mexico lawyer today to discuss your options.