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New Mexico: “Farm and Ranch Laborer” Exclusion Found Unconstitutional

June 26, 2015 (1 min read)







In a split decision, the Court of Appeals of New Mexico held that N.M. Stat. Ann. § 52–1–6(A), which excludes from coverage “employers of … farm and ranch laborers,” violates workers’ rights to equal protection under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. The majority concluded that farm and ranch laborers seeking compensation were similarly situated to other workers in the state who are likewise seeking compensation; both groups consist of workers suffering work-related injuries or disabilities who are in need of indemnity and medical benefits. The court continued that the farm and ranch laborers exclusion creates classifications of workers that are not based on real differences. In the general context of farm labor, workers who perform tasks essential to the cultivation of crops are excluded from coverage, whereas workers performing tasks incidental to farming, such as processing crops, are included. The court said the statute similarly distinguished between workers who care for and train animals as an intrinsic part of a farm and ranch operation and other workers performing similar duties. Finding the disparate treatment was not sufficiently justified and not rationally related to a legitimate state interest, the majority said the exclusion could not stand. Chief Judge Vigil dissented in part and concurred in part.

Thomas A. Robinson, J.D., the Feature National Columnist for the LexisNexis Workers’ Compensation eNewsletter, is the co-author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis).

LexisNexis Online Subscribers: Citations below link to Lexis Advance. Bracketed citations link to

See Rodriguez v. Brand West Dairy, 2015 N.M. App. LEXIS 69 (June 22, 2015) [2015 N.M. App. LEXIS 69 (June 22, 2015)]

See generally Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, § 75.01 [75.01]

Source: Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law, the nation’s leading authority on workers’ compensation law.









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