- Associated Press - Friday, February 7, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The New Mexico Department of Corrections has paid its recently named cabinet secretary $195,000 to settle a civil lawsuit alleging she was paid less than a male counterpart because she is a woman.

Alisha Tafoya Lucero filed the lawsuit in 2013 claiming she was paid $29 an hour as the deputy warden at a state penitentiary while a male colleague in a similar job was paid $39 an hour, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Thursday.

This is one of three lawsuits over violations of the Fair Pay for Women Act that the department of Corrections settled, officials said.

The settlements come after the Court of Appeals ruled in 2018 that the law can apply to government employees, department officials said.

The state fought the case for six years, arguing state agencies were exempt from the act, which Gov. Susana Martinez signed into law in 2013, officials said.

Lucero did not respond to a request for comment on the settlement.

There was “no connection whatsoever” between Lucero being named secretary and the decision to settle her case, governor’s office spokesman Tripp Stelnicki said in an email Thursday.

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