New Mexico rules exclusion of farm laborers from worker’s compensation unconstitutional
New Mexico rules exclusion of farm laborers from worker’s compensation unconstitutional

The New Mexico Supreme Court [official website] on Thursday ruled [text, PDF] that the exclusion of farm and ranch workers from the New Mexico’s Worker Compensation Act [text] is unconstitutional. The court relied on legislative interpretation to hold that the exclusion of the farm workers served no purpose in the furtherance of the act, and that the discrimination against such workers was wholly arbitrary. The opinion stated, ” [t]he Legislature is at liberty to offer economic advantages to the agricultural industry, but it may not do so at the sole expense of the farm and ranch laborer while protecting all other agricultural workers.” The court found that the explicit exclusion of farm and ranch laborers in § 52-1-6(A) of the Act violated Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution [text, PDF] because it was not founded on real differences in classification that reasonably justify separate treatment.

Standards on employment issues are ever-changing in the US. In April, the California Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that employees who can do their jobs while seated are entitled to a place to sit. The court held in a 7-0 ruling that “if the tasks being performed at a given location reasonably permit sitting, and provision of a seat would not interfere with performance of any other tasks that may require standing, a seat is called for.” In February the Ninth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that employers may no longer collect tips from service employees and share them with support staffed even if the tipped employees are receiving minimum wage. Earlier that month Oregon legislature approved [JURIST report] a law creating the highest minimum wage in the country. Also in February West Virginia became the twenty-sixth state to pass a right-to-work law, barring employers [JURIST report] from requiring that their employees pay union fees.