On April 6, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson signed legislation (House Bill 489) stipulating that an employer that violates the state’s Minimum Wage Act will be liable for triple damages to affected employees.
HB 489 reads, in part, that an employer who violates the provisions of the Minimum Wage Act (NM Stat. Sec. 50-4-22) “shall be liable to the employee affected in the amount of their unpaid or underpaid minimum wage plus interest, and in additional amount equal to twice the unpaid or underpaid wages.”
The legislation makes other changes as well, including a new prohibition on retaliation. It is a violation of the Minimum Wage Act for an employer “to discharge, demote, deny promotion to or in any other way discriminate against a person in terms or conditions of employment in retaliation for the person asserting a claim or right pursuant to the Minimum Wage Act or assisting another person to do so or for informing another person about employment rights or other rights provided by law.”
According to the legislation, the director of the Labor Relations Division of the Workforce Solutions Department will enforce and prosecute violations of the Minimum Wage Act.
Finally, HB 489 also extends the time frame in which an employee can take civil action against his or her employer. Until now, an employee had 1 year after a wage and hour violation last occurred to bring a claim—under the new law, they will now have 3 years to bring a claim after a violation last occurs.