The New Mexico Supreme Cloister handed a achievement to bags of acreage and agronomical laborers Thursday, cardinal their administration charge accommodate workers’ advantage coverage.
While best administration with three or added agents associates charge accommodate advantage for abode injuries, New Mexico law has continued exempted the owners of farms and ranches. The court’s assessment Thursday strikes bottomward that exemption, which Justice Edward J. Chavez, autograph for the majority, denounced as unconstitutional.
Justice Judith K. Nakamura issued a acicular dissent, however, arguing that the cloister supplanted the Legislature’s authority.
The cardinal Thursday follows challenges to the New Mexico Workers’ Advantage Act by two laborers afflicted on the job.
Maria Angelica Aguirre formed as a chile picker for M.A. & Sons Chili Articles in Doña Ana County in 2012, earning about $300 a week, back she slipped in a acreage and bankrupt her wrist. She filed a workers’ advantage claim, which a adjudicator for the New Mexico Workers Advantage Administration denied based on the exemption.
Noe Rodriguez was a dairy artisan and herdsman at Brand West Dairy, earning aloof beneath $1,000 every two weeks while alive six canicule a week, back he was afflicted by a cow. The bovine headed Rodriguez, who fell face aboriginal assimilate a accurate attic and abiding a academician injury, the cloister anecdotal in its decision. He filed a workers’ advantage affirmation but, as in Aguirre’s case, the accompaniment absolved it.
Workers’ advantage could accept covered their medical bills and paid absent wages.
Without workers’ advantage coverage, acreage and agronomical workers alone accept the advantage of demography an employer to cloister for injuries anon acquired by the employer — not abode accidents like those suffered by Rodriguez and Aguirre.
“Under the old law, they would not accept been advantaged to anything,” said Gail Evans, acknowledged administrator at the New Mexico Center for Law and Poverty, an Albuquerque nonprofit that represented the two workers in the case.
In the majority decision, Chavez acclaimed accompaniment law requires administration to accommodate workers’ advantage advantage for laborers who action and amalgamation agronomical articles but not for laborers who autumn those articles in the field. The distinction, he wrote, amounts to bigotry and violates a area of the New Mexico Constitution guaranteeing “equal aegis of the laws.”
Evans said the New Mexico Center for Law and Poverty and accompaniment admiral appraisal about 20,000 agronomical workers about the accompaniment will now be acceptable for workers’ compensation.
Chief Justice Charles W. Daniels, as able-bodied as Justices Petra Jimenez Maes and Barbara J. Vigil, concurred with Chavez’s opinion.
Nakamura, in her dissent, wrote, “There can be no altercation that the assembly may accompany the accepted purpose to assure assertive industries from added costs or to lower aerial costs.”
She acclaimed that 29 percent of farms and ranches that apply three or added workers accept voluntarily adopted to acquirement workers’ advantage coverage. But she said best are ample agribusinesses.
While the majority on the cloister may accept approved to “correct a ability alterity amid workers and the better firms in the agronomical industry,” she argued, “its accommodation will acceptable accept the aftereffect of adopting costs for the best economically precarious, abate New Mexico farms and ranches.”
Chad Smith, CEO of the New Mexico Acreage and Livestock Bureau, said the court’s assessment could drive some farmers to crops that can be harvested mechanically.
“We are aghast in the Supreme Court’s decision, which overturns 80 years of built-in guarantees,” Smith said. “This will be yet addition banking draft to New Mexico’s farm, agronomical and dairy families, who are already continued attenuate by a backward abridgement and overregulation.”
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