ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An appraiser in the Bernalillo County Assessor’s Office says the county retaliated against him after he questioned “several apparent irregularities” in how properties were valued for tax purposes last year, according to a lawsuit he filed in state District Court.
Patrick Griego, the employee, also argues that the retaliation stemmed from his having filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The suit names the Bernalillo County Commission as defendants.
“The county has assigned this case to an outside attorney who will analyze and defend the lawsuit,” County spokeswoman Tia Bland said Monday.
County Assessor Karen Montoya said she couldn’t comment on the suit because she hadn’t seen it.
Griego alleges the county relieved him of most of his duties as an appraiser last year and gave him a “meaningless role where he is socially and professionally isolated,” according to the lawsuit. His pay, however, wasn’t reduced, the suit said. He makes about $31,000 a year.
Griego’s complaint in state District Court outlines this timeline and series of allegations:
Griego’s suit argues he was demoted in retaliation both for his previous EEOC complaint and “for engaging in criticism of the County Assessor’s illegal and unethical values assessment practices, which he refused to implement.”
The lawsuit doesn’t say specifically what it was that Griego objected to, but it alleges he “refused to assign values to properties which were unsupported by the actuarial principles of property tax assessment, or state law governing values.”
The suit also says Griego learned of “several apparent irregularities in the manner in which the assessor was requiring property values to be increased without regard to sound actuarial practices, or law.”
Griego took his concerns to the FBI three or four months ago, his attorney Rachel Higgins said in an interview in May.
Montoya, also in May, said there was nothing for anyone to investigate because she hadn’t done anything wrong.
Griego’s lawsuit was filed earlier this month.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal