Q: I HAVE BEEN WORKING FULL TIME FROM HOME FOR 6 MONTHS UNDER A DR'S CARE FOR A SUDDEN HEART PROBLEM.
I HAVE BEEN MEDICALLY RELEASED TO RETURN TO WORK. MY EMPLOYER TOLD ME I'M A LIABILITY AND FORBIDS ME TO RETURN TO THE OFFICE AS A OFFICE MANAGER. I HAVE NO IDEA IF HE IS GOING TO CONTINUE PAYING ME CONSIDERING EACH WEEK MY WORK HAS BEEN REDUCED AND GIVEN TO MY ASSISTANT WHO EARNS CONSIDERABLY LESS MONEY THAN I DO. I HAVE BEEN WITH THE COMPANY 10 YEARS. THE TWO OWNERS COULD REDESIGN MY OFFICE MANAGER TITLE SO THAT THE POSITION NO LONGER EXISTS OR MAKE A VARIETY OF INTERNAL CHANGES, ETC. THERE ARE SEVERAL SCENARIOS THAT CAN PLAY OUT HERE. WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS CONSIDERING THIS IS NOT A WORKERS COMP CASE AND I HAVE BEEN WORKING 40 HRS FROM A HOME LOCATION. IT IS A SMALL BUSINESS WITH 12 EMPLOYEES AND NO H.R. DEPT. REFUSING TO ALLOW ME TO PHYSICALLY RETURN TO WORK DOESN'T SEEM KOSHER. SOMETHINGS UP. I AM 59 YEARS OLD. THANK YOU
A: You should definitely reach out to a New Mexico employment lawyer about this. You are describing retaliation for taking leave for a serious medical condition, which is illegal under New Mexico law. While you have a smaller employer, New Mexico employment law protects employees as long as the employer has four or more employees (unlike federal law). You may have claims for disability, serious medical condition and age discrimination/retaliation. There are important deadlines that apply to filing these claims with the state Department of Workforce Solutions, and I encourage you to speak to an attorney about the details.
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