Discipline and termination

State procedures

Are there state-specific laws on the procedures employers must follow with regard to discipline and grievance procedures?

In general, New Mexico has no law governing private employers’ use of discipline and grievance procedures. However, employers may, by their conduct or written or oral statements, create an express or implied contract to follow specific procedures about discipline and grievance procedures, including a progressive discipline process.

At-will or notice

At-will status and/or notice period?

New Mexico is an at-will state.

What restrictions apply to the above?

At-will status can be modified by an express or implied contract or can be limited by a public policy exception. An implied contract can be established by reference to an employer’s written materials (e.g., employee handbooks and policies), oral promises, and representations, and/or course of conduct.

There are numerous public policy exceptions to at-will employment when an employee is terminated.  See (NMSA § 52-1-28.2).

Final paychecks

Are there state-specific rules on when final paychecks are due after termination?

Yes. If an employee is discharged by the employer, unpaid wages or compensation of a “fixed and definite amount” must be paid within five days of the discharge (NMSA § 50-4-4(A)). Otherwise, the final paycheck must be issued to a discharged employee within 10 days of the discharge (NMSA § 50-4-4(B)). If not timely paid, the employee has a private right of action to recover damages. If an employee resigns, the final payment for wages or compensation must be paid by the next payday (NMSA § 50-4-5). Under NMSA § 50-4-7, if there is a dispute over wages the employer is required to give written notice to the employee of the amount of wages conceded to be due, and to pay such amount unconditionally, within the above-stated timeframes.