Casino must rehire injured manager despite loss of gaming license
Martinez v. Pojoaque Gaming Inc., d/b/a Cities of Gold Casino, No. 29,975 (N.M. Ct. App. 06/14/11).
Ruling: The New Mexico Court of Appeals held that a casino was required to rehire an injured manager it terminated.
What it means:
In New Mexico, employers who retaliate against workers for seeking workers' compensation benefits must rehire the workers.
Summary: A manager at a casino owned by an Indian tribe was injured while working. A workers' compensation judge found that the manager was entitled to medical and compensation benefits. Eight days after the WCJ's decision, the Indian gaming commission suspended the manager's license, and the manager was banned from casino premises. Later, the manager's license was permanently revoked, and he was terminated. The manager filed a claim alleging bad faith, unfair claims processing, and retaliation. The WCJ found the manager's supervisor, who was also an employee of the casino and the gaming commission, intended to retaliate against him by giving inaccurate information to the commission. The WCJ found it did not have authority to order the casino to rehire the manager because it could not require the gaming commission to license him. The New Mexico Court of Appeals held that the WCJ should order the casino to rehire the manager.
The casino claimed that it could not rehire the worker because he did not have a license to do his job. The court explained that the casino ignored the fact that the manager's license was revoked due to its actions. The court said that the statute requiring an employer to rehire a worker did not recognize that an employer might have legitimate business reasons for not rehiring the worker, and it did not allow consideration of other remedies as a substitution. Exempting an employer from the mandatory rehiring requirements would defeat the legislature's intent of compensating a worker who was retaliated against and could discourage injured workers from exercising their rights.
The manager asserted that he was entitled to interest on previously awarded damages and attorney's fees because they were not paid until one year after they were awarded. The court awarded post-judgment interest.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
August 11, 2011
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