Lawsuit filed against Clayton Ranch Market

By Chris Schmaedeke, QCS managing editor

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a lawsuit against Clayton Ranch Market in Clayton.

Clayton Ranch Market is owned by former District 67 State Rep. Brian Moore, who has entered the race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of New Mexico.

The lawsuit claims the store did not hire Robert Harris for the job of stocker/bagger because of a learning disability.

Veronica Davis, EEOC lawyer who will represent Harris’ interest, said the suit had been filed in U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico in Albuquerque last Thursday. Davis said no court dates have been set.

“We are still waiting to hear from the employer,” Davis said last week. “Then we can move on and begin to set deadlines.”

The suit claims Clayton Market Ranch violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by not hiring Harris in April 2008. The ADA prohibits employment discrimination based on disability.

“The EEOC’s investigation revealed that Clayton Ranch Market hired people with the same or similar qualifications as Mr. Harris, yet Mr. Harris, who sought employment with the store, was neither hired or contacted about a job,” EEOC Phoenix Acting District Director Rayford Ivrin said in a press release. “Employers cannot deny employment to qualified applicants because of disability.”

Moore, a state representative from 2000-2008, said he had not heard about the lawsuit when contacted by a reporter on Friday. He said Monday in an e-mail he could not comment on any details.

“We categorically deny any wrongdoing and look forward to defending our reputation in court,” Moore said.

The lawsuit asks the court to order Clayton Ranch Market to provide Harris with back wages, compensatory and punitive damages. The EEOC also asks the company institute and carry out policies and practices that prevent disability discrimination in the workplace.

Moore and his wife Linda have owned and operated Clayton Market Ranch since 1995.