Judgment: More Nevada workers qualified for higher base pay

Friday, Sept. 4, 2015|3:53 p.m.

LAS VEGAS (AP)– A Carson City judge’s current choice about Nevada’s two-tier minimum wage law might mean more employees are qualified for the greater $8.25 per hour rate, rather than the $7.25 permitted if the employer supplies health insurance.

Judge James Wilson last month overruled two portions of Nevada code based upon the base pay constitutional change voters passed in 2006. Nevada Labor Commissioner Shannon Chambers stated today that her workplace plans to request for a stay so the ruling is not enforced while the case is interested the Nevada Supreme Court.

Wilson ruled Aug. 12 that employers can not count suggestions when determining whether a staff member needs to get the greater or lower base pay. Under the revoked code, a company who didn’t offer medical insurance could say they’re following the guideline and paying the required $8.25 an hour because the staff member received tips on top of their base pay.

“The drafters of the Change expressly left out suggestions and gratuities from the calculation of the minimum hourly wage,” Wilson composed, “and offered no other indicator that pointers and gratuities need to be permitted as a form of credit versus the cost of the health insurance benefits that the Amendment was designed to motivate companies to provide.”

He also ruled that employers cannot simply offer insurance coverage, but the staff member has to allow it before the company can pay the lower wage.

Proponents say staff members occasionally reject their employer’s insurance coverage because the coverage is below average or their needed contribution is expensive. But they state it needs to be a trade-off, and workers shouldn’t have to quit an additional dollar an hour because of that decision.

According to Wilson, the modification “needs that employees not be entrusted none of the advantages of its enactment, whether they be the greater wage rate or the assured inexpensive health insurance for themselves and their families.”

Business representatives question why companies must be on the hook for the greater base pay rate even if they do everything they’re expected to do and the employee declines the insurance coverage through no fault of the business.

Tray Abney of the Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce said even a $1 hike can make a distinction for a company.

“Every dollar that the company needs to invest in these things is one less dollar they can spend on working with individuals,” he said.

Groups that are defending a greater minimum wage state they’re seeing the case and disappointed the state is expending resources to appeal the choice.

“We just hope the courts rule in favor of the low-wage employees to have actual, useful medical insurance,” said Laura Martin, associate director of the Progressive Management Alliance of Nevada. “If not, just provide them a $1 raise. Let’s just appreciate employees, not simply corporate revenue margins.”

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