Driving Systemic Change
While working in the chile fields, Diego* slipped and injured his head. The trip to the emergency room left Diego with medical bills which he could not pay. After being hounded by creditors, Diego only found assistance when attorneys at the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty intervened and recovered some damages from his employer.
As a farmworker, Diego’s employer did not offer him health insurance coverage. Moreover, state law at the time excluded him from receiving workers’ compensation—a system designed to provide health and financial protections in the event of a workplace injury. Knowing that thousands of New Mexico’s impoverished agricultural laborers and their families faced similar circumstances, the Center set out to systemically end the statutory exclusion of farmworkers from the state Workers’ Compensation Act.
After nearly a decade of persistent litigation, the Center won a decision from the New Mexico Supreme Court stating that it is unconstitutional to exclude agricultural laborers from the workers’ compensation system. Now Diego, and over 15,000 laborers like him, have access to healthcare and limited financial payments when they are injured on-the-job.
This effort is emblematic of how the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty has driven systemic change in our state for over 20 years. Through education, advocacy, and litigation, the Center has successfully worked to improve living conditions, increase opportunities, and protect the rights of people living in poverty. Learn more at: nmpovertylaw.org.
*The client’s name has been changed to protect his privacy.
“As the only direct service provider that caters its services to the Pan-Asian community of NM, we have found the Center on Law and Poverty to be an essential partner in our efforts to ensure that all public services are accessible to the communities we serve. In particular, the Center on Law and Poverty has provided us with continual support for those in need who are Limited English Proficient.”
—Sherry Spitzer, Executive Director, NM Asian Family Center
“The Center on Law and Poverty’s expertise on periphery issues affecting our clients–such as public benefits and health care rights for low-income New Mexicans–has been an invaluable resource for us. I can always count on CLP to provide a quick, yet comprehensive analysis of any poverty law question I might have, which, in turn, allows me better meet the needs of our clients.”
–Megan Jordi, Staff Attorney, New Mexico Immigrant Law Center