Investigations

Worker fired after state agency disregarded sexual harassment investigation

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) - A state worker has been fired after a News 13 Special Assignment revealed he was at the center of a sexual harassment investigation.

One state agency had demoted him for sexual harassment. Then, another state agency let him transfer with a promotion just one month later.

The claims against Richard Martinez stemmed from his time as a high-ranking supervisor at the New Mexico Department of Transportation (DOT).

The Department hired a law firm to investigate the allegations.

After that investigation finished, DOT sent a letter in June, which stated Martinez' behavior "constitutes sexual harassment" and his "repeated instances of inappropriate comments and conduct" constituted a "hostile work environment and offensive conduct."

KRQE News 13 agreed to protect the identity of one of his accusers, who fears retaliation.

“He reached out like he was going to help you. And then the advances came...” she said. “Requests for favors, sexual favors in his office. This is behind closed doors on state time.”

The investigation revealed Martinez, the Director of Procurement and Facilities Management at DOT, admitted to having sexual relationships with two female employees he supervised.

He said it was consensual.

The investigation questions whether a relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate truly can be consensual.

Ultimately, DOT stripped Martinez of his duties as supervisor in August and knocked down his pay from $87,000 a year to $55,000.

However, just one month into his demotion, another state agency offered to make him a manager again and give him a pay raise.

Martinez became General Services Manager at the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR), an agency that offers services to people with disabilities and is under the oversight of the Public Education Department.

“I was and am furious if these things are true,” Education Secretary Christopher Ruszkowski told News 13. “If these allegations and accusations are true, then DVR did not exercise appropriate judgment.”  

Records show DVR knew about the sexual harassment investigation and Martinez' discipline and hired him anyway, stating that the investigation was "one-sided."

Secretary Ruszkowski launched his own investigation into the matter after News 13 brought it to his attention.

“My immediate reaction was, not on my watch. Not on my watch,” he said.    

The Secretary said he was not involved in hiring Martinez.

He said DVR had the power to hire its own employees, but that he has since stripped the agency of that hiring authority.

The Education Department also now says it fired Martinez earlier this month for not disclosing his “history of sexual misconduct.”

At last check, a spokesperson said the managers involved in hiring Martinez are still on paid leave during an investigation.

KRQE News 13 tried to reach Martinez for comment. He did not respond.

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