Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Thursday, June 26, 2003

The Sausage Mill That Is A Legislative Body - Governor Signs Wrong Bill

Talk about a legislative nightmare. This sounds like something that could happen in Texas with its famous last minute rush in closing the rather short regular legislative session, but it actually happened next door in New Mexico. An amendment that was supposed to apply only to a newly passed measure protecting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation was drafted too broadly and applied to all protected categories. It limited the coverage to any employer with 15 or more employees rather than 4. According to the story on that will wipe out about 1/4 of the cases brought under the statute. To make matters worse, the error was caught and a replacement bill was passed, but somehow the first bill made it to the governor's desk and was signed into law. No doubt it will get corrected, as Governor Richardson's office told the Advocate. Frankly there are good policy arguments that 15 employees, the level used for Title VII and many states including Texas, is more appropriate. Perhaps it will turn out to be a blessing in disguise, at least for small NM businesses.

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