CARSON CITY, Nev. (Legal Newsline) – The Nevada Supreme Court has released two separate rulings
to clarify the widely controversial issues linked to the Minimum Wage Amendment
made to the Nevada Constitution.
In two en banc decisions, the Nevada Supreme Court aimed to
settle the disputes arising from the confusion on the changes made in the state’s
Minimum Wage Law. The justices used their rulings in the cases MDC
Restaurants, LLC et al v. The 8th Judicial District Court and Perry
v. Terrible Herbst Inc. to clarify the issues. To date, the Nevada Supreme
Court provided three concrete points to use as references in future cases.
The pertinent portions of the Nevada Minimum Wage Amendment are
“Each employer shall pay a wage to each employee of not less
than the hourly rates set forth in this section. The rate shall be [$5.15] per
hour worked, if the employer provides health benefits as described herein, or
[$6.15] per hour if the employer does not provide such benefits. Offering
health benefits within the meaning of this section shall consist of making
health insurance available to the employee for the employee and the employee's
dependents at a total cost to the employee for premiums of not more than 10 percent of
the employee's gross taxable income from the employer.”
The first point clarifies the health insurance issue in the
amended law. According to the justices, the employers must first offer and
enroll their employees in a health insurance policy. It is only when they
successfully fulfill these obligations that they would be able to comply with
the law’s requirement to “provide” health insurance. Hence, employers would
only be allowed to pay their employees a dollar an hour less if they actually provide
a certified health plan. Moreover, the Minimum Wage Amendment sets a limit of
10 percent of an employee’s pay for the health plan expenses.
As for the second point, the Nevada Supreme Court explained
that the issues based on the changes brought forth by the Minimum Wage
Amendment only has a lifespan of two years.
That is, the parties involved in
any dispute could seek the amended law’s protection within a two-year statute
of limitations. Hence, employees must ensure that they bring their claims to
the courts within the said time frame.
Meanwhile, the third point focuses on the calculation of
insurance premiums for the employees. According to the rulings, the employers
must not include in their computation the tip income of their workers.
justices pointed out that the employers do not have the authority to claim the
tips earned by the employees during their work hours as part of the latter’s
income. That is, these tips could not be described as money earned “from their
According to the Nevada Supreme Court, the decisions it
recently released would serve all cases retroactively starting from the
inception of the Minimum Wage Amendment. These rulings are anticipated to
substantially affect a number of pending class action cases as well as cause major
changes to the businesses of several employers in Nevada.