Paul Gutierrez (“Plaintiff’) filed a discrimination complaint with the New Mexico Health and Environment Department, Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (“the Bureau”), alleging that he was discharged by Sundancer Indian Jewelry, Inc. (“Defendant”) in retaliation for requesting that the Bureau investigate chemical usage and employee health problems at Defendant’s workplace. The parties entered into a settlement agreement which was approved by the Bureau on January 11,1990. On May 14,1990, Plaintiff filed a complaint in district court seeking damages due to fraud and wrongful *43discharge. Defendant filed a motion for partial summary judgment arguing that Plaintiffs sole remedy for his claim of -wrongful discharge was through the prior administrative claim brought before the Bureau. Defendant further argued that Plaintiffs claim for wrongful discharge was barred by the doctrine of accord and satisfaction. The district court entered a partial summary judgment holding that the settlement agreement approved by the Bureau settled Plaintiffs claim for wrongful discharge and therefore gave rise to an accord and satisfaction of the wrongful discharge claim set forth in Plaintiffs district court complaint. (Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed his fraud claim.) Plaintiff appeals.
We hold that the record presents questions of material fact precluding summary judgment on Defendant’s accord and satisfaction theory; that Plaintiffs complaint states a common-law cause of action for wrongful discharge; and that the New Mexico Occupational Health and Safety Act, NMSA 1978, §§ 50-9-1 to -25 (Repl.Pamp.1988 & Cum. Supp.1992) (“NMOHSA”), does not provide Plaintiffs exclusive remedy.
Plaintiff originally contacted the Bureau to investigate the possibility that the use of certain chemicals at Defendant’s workplace was causing Plaintiff, and other employees, to suffer chest pains and swollen lips. Plaintiff alleged that he was wrongfully discharged for reporting this safety condition.
After an investigation, the Bureau was apparently willing to file a suit on Plaintiffs behalf pursuant to Section 50-9-25. Plaintiff, however, settled the administrative proceeding by agreeing to have all information regarding his termination removed from Defendant’s files and requiring that Defendant provide “neutral or better” references to anyone who inquired about Plaintiffs work history. Defendant also agreed to post in conspicuous locations in its workplace copies of a notice stating that Defendant would not discriminate against any employee for exercising such employee’s rights under NMOHSA. The settlement further required that Defendant notify the Chief of the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau (“the Bureau Chief’) in writing of all steps it had taken to comply with the settlement agreement. Finally, the settlement agreement provided that it was not to be used by Plaintiff or the Bureau as an admission of wrongdoing by Defendant.
Approximately five months after entering into the settlement agreement and terminating the administrative proceeding, Plaintiff filed a complaint in district court seeking damages due to fraud and wrongful discharge. In that complaint, Plaintiff alleged that he was a mechanic by trade and had been lured by Defendant from his mechanic position with promises of more pay and participation in a profit-sharing plan. He claimed that “[a]s a result of Plaintiff contacting OSHA Plaintiff was fired from his position at Sundancer Jewelry.” Plaintiff contended that his discharge was wrongful and in violation of his right to seek compliance with safe working practices. In his amended complaint, Plaintiff requested both compensatory and punitive damages against Defendant.
After discovery, Defendant moved for partial summary judgment, arguing that since Plaintiff and Defendant were both parties to a disputed claim before the Bureau, which they had settled, the court could not go beyond the settlement. The district court entered the following findings:
2. Upon finding that Section [50-9-25] has been violated by an employer, OSHA has the power to institute a suit on behalf of the employee to obtain, inter alia, back pay and reinstatement of the employee to the job. OSHA itself, however, does not have the authority to adjudicate whether a termination was wrongful for purposes of collateral estoppel or res judicata. However, that does not mean that OSHA cannot help the employer and the employee to settle a Section [50-9-25] wrongful discharge claim.
*443. The settlement agreement approved by OSHA was between the Plaintiff and the Defendant in this case. What was settled was Plaintiffs original complaint: that he had been discharged for making a complaint to OSHA. That is the same complaint Plaintiff makes in Count II of the Amended Complaint herein.
4. Based upon the foregoing, and upon the affidavits and evidence submitted to the Court, the settlement agreement was performed by Sundancer, giving rise to an accord and satisfaction of the claim set forth as Count II of the Amended Complaint.
The district court entered partial summary judgment dismissing Plaintiffs claim for wrongful discharge. Plaintiff then voluntarily dismissed Count I of his complaint (fraud) and brought this appeal.
II. THE RECORD RAISES QUESTIONS OF MATERIAL FACT PRECLUDING SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON THE ACCORD AND SATISFACTION THEORY
Defendant initially argues that since the district court did not find the terms of the settlement agreement ambiguous, reference to parol evidence of the parties’ intent is inappropriate. Defendant relies upon cases from Mississippi and Maine to support its contention that “[t]he making of a settlement without express reservation of rights constitutes complete accord and satisfaction of all claims of the immediate parties to a settlement arising out of the same transaction or occurrence.” We do not believe the rule adopted in Mississippi and Maine applies in New Mexico.
Our courts have been willing to go outside the simple terms of a settlement agreement to determine the nature of the transaction and scope of the intent of the parties regarding whether such agreement was intended to be an accord and satisfaction. See, e.g., Mark V, Inc. v. Mellekas, 114 N.M. 778, 781, 845 P.2d 1232, 1235 (1993) (in interpreting the intent of parties to a contract a court is not restricted to the bare words of the agreement and may consider context in which the agreement was made to determine whether the parties’ words are ambiguous). An accord and satisfaction must be accompanied by such acts or declarations as amount to a condition that if money is accepted, it is to be in full satisfaction; and the acts or declarations must be of such character that the party to whom the money is offered is bound to understand that, if he accepts the money, he accepts it subject to such conditions. Los Atrevidos v. Preferred Risk Life Ins. Co., 107 N.M. 217, 218, 755 P.2d 61, 62 (1988). While such a showing could possibly be made from the settlement document itself, application of these principles more characteristically requires an investigation into the surrounding circumstances. See, e.g., Smith Constr. Co. v. Knights of Columbus, Council #1226, 86 N.M. 50, 519 P.2d 286 (1974) (reversing summary judgment and holding that correspondence surrounding the execution of the agreement created doubt as to whether it was intended to operate as an accord and satisfaction).
The district court’s determination that the agreement in the present case was unambiguous is reviewed as a matter of law. Levenson v. Mobley, 106 N.M. 399, 401, 744 P.2d 174, 176 (1987). An agreement is unambiguous when its language permits only one reasonable interpretation. See id. We do not agree with the district court that the settlement agreement is unambiguous.
The agreement is unclear concerning the extent or scope of the settlement. Paragraph One of the agreement refers to a separate settlement of Plaintiffs workers’ compensation claim, thus raising an inference that the present agreement was intended to apply only to the matters specifically referred to therein. Other than the requirement that Defendant remove all negative information regarding Plaintiffs termination from Defendant’s files and provide “neutral or better” references regarding Plaintiffs employment, the remainder of the settlement *45agreement appears to be directed at Defendant’s compliance with obligations imposed by the Bureau to prevent discrimination against other potential whistleblowers. The agreement concludes: “[N]or shall this Settlement Agreement be used by Gutierrez or the Environmental Improvement Division against Sundancer, in any way, except for enforcement of the terms and conditions hereof.” It could be inferred that Defendant anticipated further action by either the Bureau or Plaintiff and sought to prevent the settlement agreement from being used as any evidence of wrongdoing. If further action was anticipated, then it is unlikely that the parties intended the settlement agreement to be an accord and satisfaction.
Other documents introduced in the present ease appear analogous to those found insufficient to sustain a summary judgment in Smith Construction. In support of its motion for partial summary judgment, Defendant filed Plaintiffs entire personnel file as well as the complete Bureau file. The Bureau’s file consists of 130 pages of correspondence, memoranda, diagrams, and notices. A review of such documents could lead to the conclusion that the administrative proceeding was not viewed by the participants as a procedure to remedy any and all damage suffered by Plaintiff.
In response to Defendant’s motion for partial summary judgment, Plaintiff filed his own affidavit stating that, “[t]he January 11, 1990, Settlement Agreement did not settle my dispute with Sundancer Jewelry for wrongful discharge or fraud.” Plaintiff also filed an affidavit from the Bureau Chief. The affidavit indicated that, although the Bureau Chief approved the settlement agreement between Plaintiff and Defendant, the settlement agreement “did not address or adjudicate any claims of wrongful discharge, nor was it intended to prevent future litigation concerning wrongful discharge claims or any related claims thereto which are not included within the scope of § 50-9-25 NMSA 1978.” Defendant challenges the statements in the affidavits of Plaintiff and the Bureau Chief on the ground that they are eonclusory and therefore insufficient to establish material issues of fact significant enough to defeat Defendant’s motion for partial summary judgment. Based on the documents and affidavits submitted, we disagree.
Our Supreme Court faced an analogous situation in Western Bank v. Biava, 109 N.M. 550, 787 P.2d 830 (1990). In that case, the plaintiff bank sued on a promissory note. However, the defendant alleged that the plaintiff had agreed to accept a transfer of partnership interest in exchange for a complete release on the promissory note. The defendant, in resisting a motion for summary judgment, filed his own affidavit and submitted his own testimony on deposition in support of his contention of accord and satisfaction. Id. at 552, 787 P.2d at 832. As in the present case, the party seeking summary judgment alleged that such statements were merely eonclusory and insufficient to defeat summary judgment. Id. at 552-53, 787 P.2d at 832-33. The Supreme Court found that the testimony of the party resisting summary judgment regarding his understanding of the nature and scope of an agreement was sufficient to meet his burden to “come forward with evidentiary facts sufficient to defeat the motion for summary judgment on the accord- and-satisfaction defense.” Id. at 553, 787 P.2d at 833.
The Supreme Court again reversed a grant of summary judgment based on an accord and satisfaction argument in Bennett v. Kisluk, 112 N.M. 221, 814 P.2d 89 (1991). In that ease, the plaintiff had hired the defendant attorney to prosecute her claims arising from a slip and fall accident. During the tort proceedings the plaintiff dismissed the defendant and retained new counsel to pursue her claims. The defendant filed a motion seeking a forty-percent share of any tort recovery as his fee. Id. at 222, 814 P.2d at 90. When the plaintiff reached an agreement on the personal injury claim, she was required to settle the defendant’s claim for attorneys’ fees. Pursuant to the fee settlement, both the plaintiff and the defendant executed a stipulation for settlement and release of all claims. Id. Five months after the execution *46of that release, the plaintiff sued the defendant alleging malpractice, intentional infliction of emotional suffering, and seeking treble damages under NMSA 1978, Section 36-2-17 (Repl.Pamp.1984). The defendant moved for summary judgment on the ground that the prior release constituted an accord and satisfaction. The plaintiff argued that, at all times, she had intended to pursue her claims against the defendant,-and in the initial fee settlement agreement she was concerned only with resolution of the attorneys’ fees claim which had prevented her consummation of the personal injury settlement. 112 N.M. at 224, 814 P.2d at 92. The defendant, like Defendant in the case at bar, argued that the plaintiff was attempting to “sandbag” him; the defendant contended that the possibility of the potential claims for malpractice, intentional infliction of emotional suffering, or misrepresentation never entered his mind when he executed the release in the attorneys’ fee dispute. Id. The district court granted summary judgment, and the Court of Appeals affirmed. In reversing, the Supreme Court said:
Under these circumstances, the language of the release cannot be said, upon a motion for summary judgment, to be a universal accord and satisfaction. From both the overt manifestations of agreement and the states of mind of the parties it can be inferred that the parties did not intend a universal accord and satisfaction. Under SCRA 1986, 11-301 (rule of evidence regarding presumptions in general in civil actions), these inferences are to be weighed by the trier of fact against the presumption [that the parties intended a complete settlement of their respective claims]____
• Accordingly, we reverse and remand for trial, including the factual issue whether the parties intended a universal accord and satisfaction.
Applying the dictates of Bennett, we must reverse and remand for trial, including the factual issue of whether the parties intended a universal accord and satisfaction.1
III. NMOHSA DOES NOT PROVIDE THE EXCLUSIVE REMEDY FOR WRONGFUL DISCHARGE
The district court found that the settlement approved by the Bureau resolved all claims between Plaintiff and Defendant. Therefore the district court was not required to confront the issue of whether NMOHSA precludes employees in such situations from pursuing common-law legal remedies. Since we have found that there is a question of material fact as to the parties’ intent regarding the scope of the settlement agreement, we must now confront Defendant’s alternative argument, “that Plaintiff did not have any remedies available to him for retaliatory discharge other than those provided by Section 50 — 9—25[.]”
When a statute creates a new right or imposes a new duty, having no counterpart in common law, the remedies provided in the statute are generally deemed to be exclusive and not cumulative. Munro v. City of Albuquerque, 48 N.M. 306, 321-322, 150 P.2d 733, 742 (1943); Patterson v. Globe Am. Casualty Co., 101 N.M. 541, 544, 685 P.2d 396, 399 (Ct.App.1984); First Nat’l Bank v. Southwest Yacht & Marine Supply Corp., 101 N.M. 431, 437, 684 P.2d 517, 523 (1984) (Stowers, J., dissenting). In order to determine whether NMOHSA creates new rights and duties, and thus provides exclusive reme*47dies, or merely codifies preexisting common-law rights and duties, we must answer three questions: (1) whether New Mexico has recognized a common-law duty of an employer to provide employees with a safe workplace; (2) if so, whether retaliatory discharge for reporting violations of that common-law duty contravenes public policy thus giving rise to a common-law remedy; and, (3) if so, whether there is any indication in the NMOHSA that the legislature intended its remedies to be exclusive and thus preempt the common-law remedy.
A. Employers in New Mexico Have a Duty to Provide Employees with a Safe Workplace
New Mexico has recognized that, at common law, an employer must exercise reasonable care to provide an employee with a safe workplace. Koenig v. Perez, 104 N.M. 664, 667, 726 P.2d 341, 344 (1986); Arvas v. Feather’s Jewelers, 92 N.M. 89, 91 582 P.2d 1302, 1304 (Ct.App.1978).
B. Allowing an Employer to Retaliate Against an Employee for Reporting Unsafe Working Conditions to Appropriate Public Officials is Contrary to Public Policy in New Mexico
New Mexico has recognized a public-policy exception to the common-law employment-at-will doctrine. Vigil v. Arzola, 102 N.M. 682, 688, 699 P.2d 613, 619 (Ct.App.1983), rev’d in part on other grounds, 101 N.M. 687, 687 P.2d 1038 (1984), modified by Boudar v. E.G. & G., Inc., 106 N.M. 279, 280-81, 742 P.2d 491, 492-93 (1987) (allowing retroactive application), and modified by Chavez v. Manville Prods. Corp., 108 N.M. 643, 649-50, 777 P.2d 371, 377-78 (1989) (lowering plaintiffs burden of proof and allowing recovery for emotional distress). Consequently, an at-will employee may recover in tort when his discharge contravenes a clear mandate of public policy. Chavez, 108 N.M. at 647, 777 P.2d at 375. Whether an employee has stated a sufficient policy to recover for the tort of wrongful discharge is determined on a case-by-case basis. Sanchez v. The New Mexican, 106 N.M. 76, 79, 738 P.2d 1321, 1324 (1987); Shovelin v. Central N.M. Elec. Coop., 115 N.M. 293, 304, 850 P.2d 996, 1007 (1993). In the ease at bar, defendant concedes that Section 50-9-25, which itself is a codification of an existing common-law duty, clearly enunciates a public policy in favor of reporting safety violations. See Vigil, 102 N.M. at 688-89, 699 P.2d at 619-20. Thus, we find that allowing an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting unsafe working conditions to appropriate public officials is contrary to public policy in New Mexico and gives rise to a common-law remedy.
The dissent argues that, except for NMOHSA, there is no public policy sufficient to prohibit retaliatory discharge under the complaint in this case. But cf. NMSA 1978, § 52-1-28.2 (Repl.Pamp.1991) (establishing a cause of action against an employer who discharges, threatens to discharge, or otherwise retaliates against an employee for seeking workers’ compensation benefits). Since NMOHSA, by its own terms, cannot itself give rise to a common-law action, the dissent concludes no common-law action for wrongful discharge exists in the case at bar. However, statutes are not the sole source of public policy. Arthur S. Leonard, A New Common Law of Employment Termination, 66 N.C.L.Rev. 631, 658-59 (1988). Thus, the inquiry must include the questions of whether there are other sources of public policy that apply in this context, and, if so, whether the scope of such public policy is sufficient, as a matter of common law to prohibit retaliatory discharge of an employee who reports unsafe working conditions.
As the dissent notes, some courts have held the only permissible source of public policy is a statute or constitution. E.g., Gantt v. Sentry Ins., Cal. 4th 1083, 4 Cal.Rptr.2d 874, 881, 824 P.2d 680, 687 (1992) (en banc). This position, however, is contrary to long established precedent in New Mexico which recognizes that the judiciary as well as the legislature is an appropriate source of public policy. In re Santillanes, 47 N.M. *48140, 150, 138 P.2d 503, 509 (1943); Barwin v. Reidy, 62 N.M. 183, 192, 307 P.2d 175, 181 (1957); Southwest Community Health Servs. v. Smith, 107 N.M. 196, 201, 755 P.2d 40, 45 (1988). This position is especially apropos when the public policy relates to a rule of common law. See Hicks v. State, 88 N.M. 588, 589-92, 544 P.2d 1153, 1154-57 (1975).
Since the New Mexico courts previously recognized an employer’s duty to provide a safe workplace, NMOHSA merely codified and detailed the scope of that duty. The fact that the legislature acts to codify the public policy which underlies a common-law action does not, absent some evidence of an intent to the contrary, abolish the common-law action. Valdez v. State, 83 N.M. 720, 722, 497 P.2d 231, 233, cert. denied. 409 U.S. 1077, 93 S.Ct. 694, 34 L.Ed.2d 666 (1972); Gonzalez v. Whitaker, 97 N.M. 710, 714, 643 P.2d 274, 278 (Ct.App.1982). Many courts, in fact, have held that recognition of a common-law remedy for wrongful discharge supports, and is often necessary to reinforce, statutes designed to promote safety in the workplace. Paige v. Henry J. Kaiser Co., 826 F.2d 857, 863 (9th Cir.1987), cert. denied, 486 U.S. 1054, 108 S.Ct. 2819, 100 L.Ed.2d 921 (1988); Cloutier v. Great Atl. & Pac. Tea Co., 121 N.H. 915, 436 A.2d 1140, 1144 (1981); cf. Tyrna v. Adamo, Inc., 159 Mich.App. 592, 407 N.W.2d 47, 50 (1987) (remedies under Whistleblower Protection Act overlap Michigan OSHA remedies when employee is discharged in retaliation for reporting safety violations). The Supreme Court of Arizona explained its basis for protecting whistle-blowers who expose workplace conditions which violate public policy, regardless of the source of such policy, in the following terms:
We believe that whistleblowing activity which serves a public purpose should be protected. So long as employees’ actions are not merely private or proprietary, but instead seek to further the public good, the decision to expose illegal or unsafe practices should be encouraged. We recognize that there is a tension between the obvious societal benefits in having employees with access to information expose activities which may be illegal or which may jeopardize health and safety, and accepted concepts of employee loyalty; nevertheless we conclude that on balance actions which enhance the enforcement of our laws or expose unsafe conditions, or otherwise serve some singularly public purpose, will inure to the benefit of the public____
The relevant inquiry is not limited to whether any particular law or regulation has been violated, although that may be important, but instead emphasizes whether some “important public policy interest embodied in the law” has been furthered by the whistleblowing activity.
Legal scholars have also recognized that protecting only those whistleblowers whose actions derive from a specific statutory duty is inconsistent with the origin of the tort of wrongful discharge and results in broad societal harm. Henry H. Perritt, Jr., Employee Dismissal Law and Practice § 5.19A (2d ed. Cum.Supp.1989); Martin H. Malin, Protecting the Whistleblower From Retaliatory Discharge, 16 U.Mich.J.L.Ref. 277, 285 (1983).
Based on such considerations, numerous courts in recent years have recognized a common-law cause of action based on allegations of wrongful discharge by employees who attempted' to require management to remedy unsafe working conditions or who filed a claim based on such conditions. E.g., D'Angelo v. Gardner, 107 Nev. 704, 819 P.2d 206, 218 (1991); Smith v. Atlas Off-Shore Boat Serv., Inc., 653 F.2d 1057, 1062 (5th Cir.1981); Sorge v. Wright’s Knitwear Corp., 832 F.Supp. 118, 120-21 (E.D.Pa.1993).
C. Nothing in NMOHSA Indicates the Legislature Intended to Preempt Commons-Law Remedies
1. Defendant’s Argument
Defendant argues that Section 50-9-25 is proof of a legislative intent to make the *49remedies under NMOHSA exclusive. Defendant’s argument relies on the law of implied remedies and cites Vigil for the proposition that when a statute defines public policy and provides a remedy for violations of that policy, courts will not imply an additional remedy. In the case at bar, however, Plaintiff has a preexisting common-law action, not a remedy implied from NMOHSA.
We find nothing in the language of NMOHSA which indicates the legislature intended that its remedies be exclusive. Further, a review of cases from other jurisdictions which interpret occupational safety and health acts supports our view that our own Occupational Health and Safety Act does not preempt existing common-law remedies.
2. Federal Precedent
Section 50-9-25(B) is virtually identical to the provision of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act upon which it was patterned, 29 U.S.C. § 660(c) (1985). Several federal courts have recognized that the language of 29 U.S.C. § 660(c) was not designed to preempt any common-law remedies that an employee may have under state law. Sorge, 882 F.Supp. at 121; Kilpatrick v. Delaware County S.P.C.A., 632 F.Supp. 542, 548 (E.D.Pa.1986); McElroy v. SOS Int’l, Inc., 730 F.Supp. 803, 807-08 (N.D.Ill.1989). This conclusion is also supported by the legislative history which indicates that Congress only intended to provide a parallel remedy for breach of the common-law duty to provide employees a safe workplace. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Health, Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, S.Rep. No. 91-1282 (1970), reprinted in 1970 U.S.C.C.A.N. 5177, 5186.
3. State Precedent
Courts which have considered language from the federal OSHA, which state codes are patterned after, have also concluded that the language contained in the acts indicates a legislative intent to provide a parallel rather than an exclusive remedy. Lepore v. National Tool & Mfg. Co., 224 N.J.Super. 463, 540 A.2d 1296, 1298-99 (1988) aff'd per curiam, 115 N.J. 226, 557 A.2d 1371, and cert. denied, 493 U.S. 954, 110 S.Ct. 366, 107 L.Ed.2d 353 (1989); Skillsky v. Lucky Stores, Inc., 893 F.2d 1088, 1093-94 (9th Cir.1990). In Reed v. Municipality of Anchorage, 782 P.2d 1155 (Alaska 1989), the Alaska Supreme Court confronted the issue of whether the state OSHA (which contains language functionally equivalent to that in NMOHSA), by providing an administrative remedy, was intended to be exclusive:
On its face, [Alaska Statute] 18.60.089 contains no such prohibition. Indeed, it seems to us that the statute does not preclude an employee from instituting an action in Alaska under a recognized tort or contract theory. Alaska Statute 18.60.-089(b) states that an employee may file a complaint with the commissioner. Such action is permissive and is required to initiate the remedial process specifically contained in the statute. This process consists of the commissioner’s investigation of the employee’s complaint. However, [Alaska Statute] 18.60.089 does not show an intent on the part of the legislature to preclude an employee from suing on his own behalf. If the legislature had wanted to foreclose a private common law cause of action, it could have done so expressly.
Reed, 782 P.2d at 1158-59 (footnote omitted, emphasis in original).
4.Purpose of NMOHSA
Defendant’s interpretation of NMOHSA as preemptive of common-law remedies is also inconsistent with the stated purposes of the Act. Initially we note that Section 50-9-21(A) states:
Nothing in [NMOHSA] shall be construed or held ... to enlarge or diminish or affect in any other manner the common law or statutory rights, duties or liabilities of employers and employees under the laws of this state with respect to injuries, occupational or other diseases, or death of employees arising out of or in the course of employment.
*50While this passage does not directly apply to wrongful discharge, the broad language of the provision demonstrates the tenor of the statute as not intending to affect the common-law rights that relate to the health and safety of employees. In addition, Section 50-9-2.1(B) provides that “it is in the public interest to establish a comprehensive program for the disclosure of information about hazardous substances in places of employment and to provide a procedure whereby employees may gain access to this information.” The primary purpose of NMOHSA, then, is to ensure reporting of safety violations to the Bureau, not to compensate employees for wrongful discharge resulting from the reporting of such violations. Cf. Wiggins v. Eastern Associated Coal Corp., 178 W.Va. 63, 357 S.E.2d 745, 748 (1987) (primary purpose of the penalties imposed under antidiscrimination provisions of the mine safety acts is to ensure reporting of safety violations rather than vindication of employees’ rights; no preemption); Carsner v. Freightliner Corp., 69 Or.App. 666, 688 P.2d 398, 403 (antidiscrimination section of labor code designed to prevent a different evil than common-law claim for emotional distress when employee is allegedly fired for complaining about job safety practices), review denied, 298 Or. 334, 691 P.2d 483 (1984).
If NMOHSA is interpreted to provide the exclusive remedy, it may in fact discourage employees from disclosing information about hazardous substances in places of employment. This conclusion follows from the fact that the only remedy, available under NMOHSA for workers who are discharged for disclosing such information is an action brought at the discretion of the Director of the Environmental Improvement Division seeking to restrain violations of NMOHSA and “for other appropriate relief including rehiring or reinstatement of the employee to his former position with back pay.” Section 50-9-25(B). Many employees would not wish to rely upon the Director finding sufficient cause after an investigation and then bringing a discretionary action or upon the relief such action could provide. It can also be fairly assumed that many employees who are discharged for reporting unsafe working conditions would have no interest in being rehired to work in such conditions, with or without back pay.
If the purpose of NMOHSA is to encourage the reporting of safety violations, and without doubt such is the case, then we find it highly unlikely that NMOHSA would also have had the intent of preempting common-law actions that further such purpose. Defendant’s interpretation would use the limited remedies available under NMOHSA to defeat the very goal set forth by the legislature.
We hold that the district court erred in granting summary judgment on Defendant’s accord and satisfaction theory. Under New Mexico Supreme Court precedent the affidavits filed by Plaintiff in opposition to the motion for summary judgment raised sufficient questions with regard to the scope of the settlement agreement and the intent of the parties to defeat the motion.
We also reject Defendant’s argument that NMOHSA provides Plaintiff his exclusive remedy for wrongful discharge. The common law requires that employers provide employees with a reasonably safe workplace. Public policy in New Mexico prohibits discharging an employee for reporting unsafe working conditions to the Bureau. Finally, we find that the legislature did not intend NMOHSA to provide the exclusive remedy for an employee alleging wrongful discharge in retaliation for reporting safety violations.
Therefore the summary judgment of the district court is reversed; each side shall bear its own costs on appeal.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DONNELLY, J., concurs.
HARTZ, J., dissents.