The Personnel Act [Section 10-9-1 to 10-9-25, NMSA 1978] requires the State Personnel Office (SPO) to promulgate rules and provide a “dismissal or demotion procedure for employees in the service”, as well as a procedure for appeals of disciplinary action to the State Personnel Board (Board).
Classified employees who have met their probationary period [1 NMAC 126.96.36.199] and have either been demoted, dismissed, or suspended by a state agency have a right to appeal the disciplinary action to the Board for a public hearing.
As of June, 2009, employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement are given the option of choosing to have their disciplinary appeal decided by an arbitrator.
The Adjudication Bureau is responsible for conducting administrative hearings on appeals filed by state employees concerning disciplinary action taken against them, by their employer. The hearing officer conducts administrative hearings that allow the employee and the employee's agency to present evidence relating to the discipline and appeal. The hearing officer prepares a recommended decision for review and final decision making by the Board.
The Board may itself hear an appeal of disciplinary action, but usually the Board designates an administrative law judge (ALJ or hearing officer) employed by SPO to preside over a disciplinary appeal hearing. The hearing officer provides an unbiased and neutral forum to hear and decide the employee’s appeal. The Hearing officer shall not participate in any adjudicatory proceeding if he or she cannot afford a fair and impartial hearing. The parties to an appeal may ask for the disqualification of a hearing officer by filing an affidavit of disqualification stating the particular grounds for disqualification. In order to ensure a fair hearing process is followed, no party may communicate with the hearing officer concerning the details of the case unless both parties are present.