New Mexico

2016 lawsuit against DA alleges discrimination, violation of Whistleblower Protection Act

ABC7 obtains another lawsuit filed...

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - ABC-7's New Mexico Mobile Newsroom has obtained another lawsuit against New Mexico's Third Judicial District Attorney, Mark D'Antonio.

The lawsuit, filed in September 2016, alleges handicap discrimination, statutory retaliation and a violation of the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act.

Another lawsuit filed Monday alleges D'Antonio's office used funds inappropriately, discriminated against women and retained employees as political favors. D'Antonio's office released a statement Monday stating the district attorney "strongly denies" the allegations.

The 2016 lawsuit was filed by Paul Rubino, formerly employed in D'Antonio's office.

Rubino alleges D'Antonio violated the New Mexico Human Rights Act because D'Antonio  "intentionally discriminated and discharged" the plaintiff because of the plaintiff's mental handicap and/or serious medical condition. 

In the lawsuit, Rubino also alleges D'Antonio created a "hostile and abusive environment" in which he felt "physically threatened" and "humiliated."

The plaintiff also claims D'Antonio violated the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act.

Rubino said the District Attorney took retaliatory action against him because "he communicated to defendants and/or a third party information about an action or a failure to act that Plaintiff believes in good faith constitutes an unlawful and/or improper act."

The New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act "prohibits public employer retaliatory action against public employees in certain circumstances; creating a right to civil action for damages."

Rubino claims his damages include lost wages and benefits, employment opportunities, lost income, loss of earning capacity, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, loss of enjoyment of life and other "nonpecuniary losses."

The District Attorney's office released this statement in response to the lawsuit.

"We are aware of this complaint, which was filed last year," said Damien Willis, a spokesman for the District Attorney's office. "It is currently pending litigation, and our official posture on each of these allegations has been filed with the court. Any further questions about the suit should be directed to our attorneys in this matter."