Employment discrimination is a violation of the Civil Rights and Human Rights. There are a number of state and federal laws that protect employees from a range of discriminatory employment practices and behaviors. Collins & Collins, P.C. is focused on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and the New Mexico Human Rights Act. More specifically, we are focused on sexual harassment in the workplace.
Title VII Protected Classes
Title VII prohibits discriminatory employment practices based on sex, race, religion, physical disability, national origin, or age.
Although Title VII did not directly address harassment in the workplace, the Courts over the years expanded its scope to include harassment. Protections against harassment are limited to protected classes under Title VII which are again race, religion, sex, disability, national origin or age.
During 2016, all but one (age) under attack during the presidential campaign. The attacks came from very high levels of authority which has emboldened throughout society both in and outside the workplace in their own prejudicial behavior. Leading up to and since the election, there has been a seeming validation of racism, sexism, xenophobia and generalized bigotry.
New Mexico Human Rights Act Provides Protection for Sexual Orientation/Identity
There are two areas of significant concern for those that will no doubt face it. Title VII does not protect against discrimination or harassment based upon sexual orientation or sexual identity. Nor have the courts thus far extended Title VII protections to protect these folks.
Fortunately, New Mexico has been somewhat forward thinking on these matters. The New Mexico Human Rights Act protects against all protected classes under Title VII. It extends this protection to sexual orientation and gender identity.
New Mexico Human Rights Act, §28-1-7(A) states that is unlawfully discriminatory for: “if the employer has fifteen or more employees, to discriminate against an employee based upon the employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity”.
As you can see from the Act, the protection for sexual orientation and gender identity apply only to employers with 15 or more employees.
Other Possible Grounds for Harassment Claims
In cases not falling under Title VII or the New Mexico Human Rights Act, there may in very narrow circumstances be possible claims for intentional infliction of emotional distress. Intentional infliction of emotional distress is a tort (legal wrong) in and of itself in New Mexico. It has developed through and is well established in the New Mexico Courts.
Some wrongful conduct may just plain criminal in nature such as violence, unwanted touching, threats, stalking and so on. For each of these, there would be parallel civil claims (i.e. lawsuit).
Collins & Collins, P.C. is Committed to the Fight for Justice
Since the election, there has been a significant increase in incidents of discrimination, harassment and violence arising out of sexism, racism, xenophobia and bigotry. It is likely to get worse before it gets better. Perhaps it is little consolation for those suffering such vile behavior, but there are laws there to protect against it.
It will take courage for many of the victims to stand against the wave of hate pouring over the country. Collins & Collins, P.C. stands ready to fight with them. We can be reached at (505) 242-5958.