Former county employee files lawsuit

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Luke Dienlen, a former Socorro County roads department mechanic, has filed a lawsuit against the department and the Board of County Commissioners that accuses his superiors of retaliating against him after he states working conditions were unsafe and not up to standards.

The allegations filed against the county and its department include breaching the New Mexico Whistleblower Act by failure to pay Dienlen due wages for overtime work. He also accuses his former employers of saying he was “on drugs” and was “harming other employees” at the time of the incidents in question.

In the complaint filed June 3 in the New Mexico Seventh Judicial District, Dienlen states his employers did not provide certain safety tools or that the safety tools were inadequate, such as “out of date fire extinguishers, no lifting equipment and other items he felt were necessary for a safe working environment.

A response from the attorney representing the Socorro Board of County Commissioners has filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed because, the document stated, they are not directly involved with the issue and should not be subject to “improper procedure.”

“When Plaintiff’s co-worker seriously injured his back because Defendant had no lifting equipment, Plaintiff requested unpaid time off so he did not have to work in the unsafe environment,” the complaint filed by Dienlen’s attorney stated. “Defendant refused, thereby constructively discharging Plaintiff.”