Legislation, Lobbying & Legal Resources

Harassment and Discrimination Resources

Secretary Toulouse Oliver is working to eliminate sexual harassment from the Roundhouse. As part of this effort, registered lobbyists will now be provided access to draft policies and avenues for voluntary trainings to combat these types of abuse. Secretary Toulouse Oliver will also push the legislature to require mandatory sexual harassment training for all lobbyists. These are first steps in Secretary Toulouse Oliver’s efforts to ensure that all New Mexicans feel safe in their workplace.

Below you’ll find additional information about what constitutes sexual harassment and how to prevent it. You’ll also find a sample sexual harassment policy that you can use for your own workplace. 


What is Harassment?

Harassment is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).

Harassment is unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Anti-discrimination laws also prohibit harassment against individuals in retaliation for filing a discrimination charge, testifying, or participating in any way in an investigation, proceeding, or lawsuit under these laws; or opposing employment practices that they reasonably believe discriminate against individuals, in violation of these laws.

Petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not rise to the level of illegality. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people.

Offensive conduct may include, but is not limited to, offensive jokes, slurs, epithets or name calling, physical assaults or threats, intimidation, ridicule or mockery, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or pictures, and interference with work performance. Harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful harassment may occur without economic injury to, or discharge of, the victim.

Prevention is the best tool to eliminate harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take appropriate steps to prevent and correct unlawful harassment. They should clearly communicate to employees that unwelcome harassing conduct will not be tolerated. They can do this by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process, providing anti-harassment training to their managers and employees, and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains. Employers should strive to create an environment in which employees feel free to raise concerns and are confident that those concerns will be addressed.

Employees are encouraged to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. Employees should also report harassment to management at an early stage to prevent its escalation.


What is Sexual Harassment?

It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.

Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.

Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.


How Can I Help to Prevent Harassment?

The first step is to have in place a policy that addresses harassment in the workplace, identifies a reporting structure, provides for impartial investigation of complaints of harassment, and describes the consequences of violating the policy.

Each manager, supervisor, and employee should be trained on the policy annually. Leadership should set an example of good conduct in the workplace.

General Non-Discrimination Policy Tips:

  • State that discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity), national origin, disability, age (40 or older) or genetic information (including family medical history) is illegal and will not be tolerated. Provide definitions and examples of prohibited conduct, as needed.*
  • State that you will provide reasonable accommodations (changes to the way things are normally done at work) to applicants and employees who need them for medical or religious reasons, as required by law.
  • Explain how employees can report discrimination. If possible, designate more than one person to receive and respond to discrimination complaints or questions. Consider permitting employees to report discrimination to any manager.
  • State that employees will not be punished for reporting discrimination, participating in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit or opposing discrimination.
  • State that you will protect the confidentiality of employees who report discrimination or participate in a discrimination investigation, to the greatest possible extent.
  • Require managers and other employees with human resources responsibilities to respond appropriately to discrimination or to report it to individuals who are authorized to respond.
  • Provide for prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of complaints.
  • Provide for prompt and effective corrective and preventative action when necessary.
  • Consider requiring that employees who file internal complaints be notified about the status of their complaint, the results of the investigation and any corrective and preventative action taken.
  • Describe the consequences of violating the non-discrimination policy.

Sample Harassment Policy:
Sample Harassment Policy Word Version
Sample Harassment Policy PDF Version

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