SANTA FE (KRQE) - The New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act has only been on thebooks since May 19, but already the Public Regulation Commissionhas two lawsuits.
On June 14, the first suit seeking monetary and punitive damageswas filed for Aaron Feliciano. In August of 2009, Feliciano wasfired from his job as compliance director by Insurance DivisionSuperintendent Morris Chavez and Chief of Staff Daniel Mayfield.Neither men work for the Public Regulation Commission anymore.
“Our client contends that they were the ones that pulledthe trigger on terminating him for doing his job,” attorneyBryan Davis said.
This is the first whistleblower case the PRC is facing where theplaintiff wants his or her job back.
“That’s one of the remedies of the WhistleblowerProtection Act gives public employees. They can get their job backat the same rate of pay, same status if they prevail,” Davissaid.
The act also allows the government employee to get double theirback-pay.
Court documents say Feliciano feels he was terminated because hewouldn’t hire a friend of Chavez and he wrote a letter toAttorney General Gary King saying the Insurance Divisionwasn’t doing its job protecting New Mexicans from“predatory practices and unscrupulous insurancecompanies.”
“He brought these things to the PRC’s attention onnumerous occasions, to Mr. Chavez’s attention on numerousoccasions, nobody would listen to him,” Davis said.
Feliciano wrote the email on August 26, 2009, he was fired twodays later. Davis says this is a perfect example of why the act waswritten.
“It’s designed to keep politicians honest and doingtheir job for the public and it allows public employees to not beafraid to speak out against corruption,” Davis said.
The act is retroactive up to two years. Davis said he tried toresolve the issue with the PRC before the lawsuit was filed. Thecase was filed in Santa Fe District Court. No court date has beenset.
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