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New Mexico Department of Corrections Sued by EEOC for Age Discrimination and Retaliation

Older Workers Suffered Unequal Treatment and Retaliation for Complaining, Federal Agency Charged

 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The New Mexico Department of Corrections (NMDOC), which operates correctional facilities throughout New Mexico, discriminated against older workers in various ways with respect to promotions and terms, conditions and privileges of employment because they were over 40, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charged in a lawsuit it filed today. Further, EEOC said, when employees filed internal complaints, filed EEOC charges or participated in EEO investigations or proceedings, they were subjected to unlawful retaliation.

According to EEOC's suit, NMDOC violated federal law by discriminating against Richard Henderson and Robert Tenorio, who were denied promotions, discriminated against with respect to job assignments and compensation, and unfairly disciplined or discharged because of their age and/or their opposition to unlawful employment practices and/or participation in proceedings under the ADEA. EEOC's suit also alleged that Paul Martinez was denied a job assignment that offered greater wage-earning potential and enhanced opportunities for career advancement because of his age. Further, EEOC alleged that other individuals who were age 40 or over were denied employment opportunities and/or subjected to discrimination in job assignment and other terms, conditions, or privileges of employment because of their age.

Age discrimination against persons who are 40 years old or older violates the Age Discrimin­ation in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA). Retaliation against individuals because they filed internal complaints or EEOC charges or participated in EEO investigations or proceedings also violates the ADEA's provisions that prohibit retaliation. EEOC filed suit, EEOC v. State of New Mexico, Department of Correction., 15-CV-, in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico after first attempting to reach a pre-litigation settlement through its concili­ation process.

"Employers who make employment decisions based on stereotypical notions of an older worker's ability to work risk losing valuable employees and may gain a lawsuit," said Regional Attorney Mary Jo O'Neill of EEOC's Phoenix District Office. "EEOC will vigorously enforce the laws prohibiting age discrimination and retaliation against workers who have the courage to complain about it."

EEOC Albuquerque Area Director Derick L. Newton added, "This lawsuit seeks to address the rights of older workers who should be allowed to compete freely for promotions and job opportunities based on their contributions in the workplace, not based on their age."

EEOC enforces federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Further information about EEOC is available on its website at