Employment Discrimination, Whistleblower, and Civil Rights Cases

          A significant portion of Ms. Hemphill’s practice is devoted to representing employees who have suffered workplace wrongs, including discrimination based on sex, age, race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and pregnancy as well as individuals who have experienced sexual harassment.  Ms. Hemphill also represents employees who have claims based on disability/serious medical condition discrimination or who have suffered retaliation for or interference with the exercise of their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act. 

          Since the passage of the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act and Fraud Against Taxpayers Act, Ms. Hemphill has represented a significant number of employees who have been harassed, wrongfully terminated or retaliated against because they reported government fraud or abuse or refused to participate in illegal or discriminatory activities.  Wrongful termination cases include cases where employees have felt compelled to resign because of intolerable workplace conditions.  Ms. Hemphill has also brought civil rights cases against political subdivisions who have violated employees’ civil rights in the workplace, including the Fourteenth Amendment right to Due Process of Law and the First Amendment right to Freedom of Association.

          Because wrongful termination and other employment law suits are labor intensive and can take many years to resolve, Ms. Hemphill is highly selective in choosing which cases to pursue and often teams with other experienced employment lawyers to pursue litigation.  Most employment cases are pursued on a contingency fee basis, meaning that there is no attorney’s fee due unless there is a recovery.  In most instances, there is also a statute that allows for recovery of attorney’s fees in addition to amounts recovered for clients.

          The following is a representative sample of employment cases Ms. Hemphill has successfully litigated over the past twenty-five years in state or federal courts or before other tribunals:

  • Medical condition/disability discrimination case against a retailer for a woman terminated after multiple sclerosis diagnosis (tried before New Mexico Human Rights Commission; settlement confidential)
  • First Amendment political retaliation case against Public Regulation Commission officials Chief of Staff, Superintendent of Insurance and Deputy Superintendent of Insurance for wrongful termination of state fire marshal (U.S. District Court - $521,000, including attorney’s fees)
  • Gender discrimination and Civil Rights - First Amendment Freedom of Expression case against Tucumcari Police Department for refusing to hire former exotic dancer as entry level police officer ($80,000 verdict in U.S. District Court, plus attorney’s fees settlement after trial by jury)
  • Disability/Serious Medical Condition discrimination case against Amerigas for termination of diabetic employee after amputation of his leg (U.S. District Court, confidential settlement)
  • Gender discrimination case against Borders for failure to promote female manager (U.S. District Court - confidential settlement)
  • Retaliation, gender and race discrimination case against Your Credit, Inc. for termination of employee while on maternity leave (U.S. District Court – confidential settlement) 
  • Medical condition discrimination case against Rio Arriba Electric Cooperative for terminating employee returning from medical leave after suffering a transient ischemic attack (State District Court -$250,000 verdict plus attorney’s fees after trial by jury - verdict later reversed on appeal)
  • Sexual harassment, constructive discharge and whistleblower case against NMDOT (U.S. District Court - $295,000 settlement, including attorney’s fees and costs)
  • Pregnancy discrimination/wrongful termination case for three female employees against Odyssey, Inc. (U.S. District Court - confidential settlement)
  • Gender, race, national origin, and whistleblower case against Mesalands Community College brought on behalf of three employees (State District Court - $765,000 settlement, including attorney’s fees and costs)
  • Civil rights case against City of Espanola for terminating employee without Due Process of Law (U.S. District Court; settlement)
  • Breach of contract and negligent misrepresentation case against State Farm Insurance for failure to honor commitments made to independent agent (U.S. District Court – confidential settlement) 
  • Pregnancy discrimination and Family and Medical Leave Act case against New Mexico Department of Information Technology (State District Court - $475,000 settlement, including attorney’s fees and costs)
  • Whistleblower case against New Mexico Behavioral Health Institute on behalf of constructively terminated recreation therapist (State District Court - $425,000 settlement, including attorney’s fees and costs)
  • Whistleblower, fraud against taxpayer and gender discrimination case on behalf of one terminated and two constructively discharged police officers against Los Alamos County (State District Court - $2.0 million settlement, including attorney’s fees and employees offered reinstatement)
  • Civil rights -First Amendment Freedom of Association case brought on behalf of terminated police officer against Lea County Sheriff's Office (U.S. District Court - $212,000 settlement and officer reinstated)

          In addition to litigating employment-related claims, Ms. Hemphill also provides advice and counseling on a variety of workplace issues, and assists employees in addressing a wide variety of workplace issues, including workplace bullying, hostile work environments and progressive discipline.  Although 95% of Ms. Hemphill’s employment practice is devoted to representing employees, she is also available to provide advice and consultation to employers on a case-by-case basis and has regularly represented a small group of local organizations in personnel matters.

Disclaimer: Past results are not a guarantee of future results.  Every case is different and must be evaluated on its own merits.