On August 11, 2015, SHLC held a special webinar featuring the Nevada Labor Commissioner Shannon Chambers. Commissioner Chambers was appointed in December 2014. She has fifteen years of combined legal and administrative experience in public sector employment and extensive knowledge of state government and the legislative process. In the SHLC webinar, Commissioner Chambers discussed many legal issues currently facing Nevada employers. Brett Sutton conducted the webinar with Commissioner Chambers and certain members of her staff live from the Office of the Labor Commissioner in Carson City, Nevada. All net proceeds of the webinar were donated to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.
Overview of the Office of the Labor Commissioner
The Office of the Labor Commissioner investigates complaints of non-payment of wages, state minimum wage, overtime, and prevailing wage disputes. The Office also monitors youth employment standards, including work hours and safe, non-hazardous working conditions. Commissioner Chambers emphasized that the Labor Commissioner is not biased or “pro-claimant” (employee) as some claim. Instead, the Office of the Labor Commissioner is responsible for acting as a neutral party to investigate allegations of employer misconduct. When an employer receives a notice of claim, this does not mean that the Labor Commissioner has reached a conclusion; it just means that an allegation has been made. When an employer receives a notice of claim, it should make sure to respond! If employers do not respond and the Labor Commissioner determines that a violation occurred, additional penalties can be accessed and the claim could be turned over to collections to the State Controller’s Office.
Tips for Employers
Employers should maintain adequate employment records, including employee timecards. The timecards should show when employees clock in, clock out, and when meal periods are taken. Simply recording the total amount of hours worked in a day is not sufficient. If employees are paid commissions, employers should ensure that the commission statements are in writing and signed by the employee. Inadequate records make it difficult from employers to defend against wage claims and can lead to unnecessary liability.
Employers must also pay their employees for all time worked. Just because a worker was a “bad employee” does not justify refusing to pay them. If an employee performs work for the employer, he or she must be paid, regardless of the quality of the work. That is especially true for payment of an employee’s final check. When an employee quits or is terminated, Commissioner Chambers recommends that employers “just put the final check in the mail and be done with it.” When an employee is not timely paid, his or her pay “continues at the same rate from the day the employee resigned, quit or was discharged until paid…” up to thirty days! See N.R.S. 608.040. If you do mail the final check, make sure to send it by Certified Mail with Return Receipt in order to have proof of mailing.
Rounding is permitted in certain circumstances. For more information you can read the Labor Commissioner Opinion letter addressing rounding: https://www.laborcommissioner.com/Advisory%20Opinions/AO%20Time%20Clock%20Rounding%20to%20Calculate%20Employee%20Pay.pdf. However, employers must be extremely careful to ensure that rounding methods comply with the law. Employers should not use rounding to avoid paying employees who clock-in early or who clock-out late. Instead, employers should pay employees for all time worked but then discipline employees who abuse the time clock.
Commissioner Chambers stated that the Office of the Labor Commissioner intends to revise Nevada Administrative Code Chapters 338, 607, and 608 in order to bring them up to the “21st Century.” These changes will likely take place sometime in the next year.
Other Topics Covered
- A review of the 2015 Legislative Session
- Enforcement Priorities of the Office of the Labor Commissioner
- On-Duty Meal Periods
- Dangers of the widespread use of independent contractors
- Off-the-Clock Work
CD’s and MP3 recordings of the webinars are available for purchase for $30! For more information you can email Rhonda@suttonhague.com.