Nobody reported on it, nobody talked about it. It got bi-partisan support. Now it is the law of the land.
Unfortunately, it has the potential to do incredible harm to New Mexico businesses. The bill was HB 216, the Fair Pay for Women Act. Who could be against that? After all, according to the folks who track such things, women earn about 77 percent of what men make. So, there oughta be a law, right?
Of course, as Reason Magazine points out, women make different job choices, take time off to raise children, and work fewer hours than men. All of those differences add up to significant salary “discrimination.”
So, it is now New Mexico law that “In addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff or plaintiffs, allow costs of the action and reasonable attorney fees to be paid by the defendant. In any new proceedings brought pursuant to the provisions of this section, the employee shall not be required to pay any filing fee or other court costs necessarily incurred in such proceedings.”
The potential for cases to be brought forth goes back up to six years, so if someone suddenly decides they were discriminated against five years ago, they can come back on their employer, take them to court, and force the employer to pay all of their legal costs. This is a disaster waiting to happen. UPDATE: some small good news is that the bill was changed before passage to state that suits “could be brought no later than two years from the last date of the employee’s employment.”
We at the Rio Grande Foundation apologize for not finding this before it was too late, but we wonder how such a business-unfriendly piece of legislation managed to pass through the Legislature with so little opposition.