The New Mexico Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of physical or mental handicap or serious medical condition (NM Stat. Sec. 28-1-1 et seq.). The law applies to employers with four or more employees.
Federal law compared. Although the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has similar provisions to the state law, amendments to the ADA changed the definition of a "regarded as" disability. Under the amended ADA, a person is regarded as having an ADA disability if an employer takes adverse employment action against the person because of an actual or perceived impairment. The impairment does not have to substantially limit a major life activity in order to meet the definition of a "regarded as" disability.
The courts in New Mexico look to federal law for guidance in the interpretation of the state human rights law. Therefore, the changes in the ADA may affect decisions made by state courts in disability discrimination cases.
The ADA covers private employers with 15 or more employees.
“Physical or mental handicap” is defined as an impairment that substantially limits a major life activity, a record of a handicap, or being regarded as having a handicap.
“Major life activity” is defined as a function such as caring for oneself, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.
“Serious medical condition” is defined as any health-related impairment other than a handicap, which substantially limits one or more major life activities, and which is verifiable by medical diagnosis (NM Admin. Code Sec. 22.214.171.124).