Attorneys

Ex-prosecutors settle discrimination suit against former DA Mark D’Antonio

District Attorney Mark D'Antonio, questions the defense's media expert Gerges Scott, during a change of venue hearing in the Jesse Hanes case, Wednesday, April 12, 2017. The motion for a venue change was denied by the court.

LAS CRUCES – Three former prosecutors in the Third Judicial District Attorney’s Office have settled a 2019 lawsuit alleging sex discrimination, disparate pay and workplace retaliation under the leadership of former DA Mark D’Antonio. 

The complaint centered on allegations involving the supervision of the office by D’Antonio’s chief deputy, Gerald Byers, who succeeded D’Antonio as DA after running unopposed for the office in 2020. D’Antonio, after serving two terms, did not seek reelection. 

Plaintiffs Cassandra Brulotte, Rebecca Duffin and Kelly Rossi alleged that they were paid less than male colleagues with similar qualifications and experience, and subject to abusive and bullying behavior by Byers. 

In 2018, Brulotte and Duffin were fired for insubordination following disputes over the prosecutors’ posting “No Mansplaining” signs on their doors. Rossi resigned after being placed on administrative leave over similar signage on her door. 

Duffin was subsequently elected as a magistrate judge in Doña Ana County, running unopposed.

D’Antonio publicly praised all three women as accomplished prosecutors yet stood by Byers, saying his chief deputy acted properly in managing the disputes.

Rebecca Duffin, a former prosecutor in the Doña Ana County District Attorneys office, testifies during a Public Employee Labor Relations Board hearing on Tuesday October 16, 2018.

Working conditions at the office during D’Antonio’s tenure inspired staff attorneys to unionize in 2018. A year later, the union withdrew amid allegations of union-busting and retaliation against members of the bargaining unit. 

More: In recorded staff meeting, Mark D’Antonio argues against union

Lawsuit settled for $395,000

The plaintiffs, who were represented by the New Mexico chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, reached a settlement with the DA’s office for a lump sum of $395,000. 

As part of the settlement, they will file an amended complaint in court modifying their claims and asserting “physical manifestations of emotional distress.”

Additionally, Brulotte and Duffin will submit letters of voluntary resignation, expunging the firings from their employment history. 

New Mexico Third Judicial District Attorney Gerald Byers is pictured in his new office in Las Cruces on Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, after his election. He served as chief deputy DA under his predecessor, Mark D'Antonio.

The settlement resolves all of the allegations with no admission to any of them by the office. The parties all agreed not to comment on the matter for news media, except to say the matter was amicably resolved “on terms agreeable to both sides.”

The deal closes out a series of whistleblower complaints from D’Antonio’s leadership of the office.

Former chief deputy Paul Rubino settled a 2016 whistleblower suit this year for $600,000, alleging he was subject to a hostile work environment and fired in retaliation for raising concerns about unmanageable caseloads and the discriminatory treatment of another employee. 

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