Las Cruces waiter's sprained ankle leads to unusual disability lawsuit

The New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA) doesn't protect workers from employment discrimination that is based on the filing of a workers' compensation claim. The New Mexico Workers' Compensation Act has its own provisions meant to protect a worker who suffers retaliation for filing a claim. But when a waiter at a restaurant in Las Cruces sprained his ankle at work, the fallout from the sprain took a much different path than usual. After he was fired, he filed an NMHRA claim, eventually winning a jury verdict of $95,000 in lost wages and damages for emotional distress. Although the restaurant appealed, the jury verdict was affirmed. This case is a warning to employers—what should have been a simple workers' comp case turned into a massive and costly problem for this workplace.

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