Yesterday, December 7, 2017, the Nevada Supreme Court issued a decision in Neville, Jr. v. Eighth Judicial District Court. The case addressed an issue important to all Nevada employers; namely, whether employees have a private right of action to bring a lawsuit in civil court against their employer for unpaid wages under NRS Chapter 608, or whether employees may only pursue such claims exclusively outside of court before the Nevada Labor Commissioner. The Nevada Restaurant Association (“NvRA”) retained Sutton Hague Law Corporation to submit an amicus brief on its behalf last year regarding this case (See SHLC Blog Post, “SHLC Files Amicus Brief in Nevada Supreme Court on Behalf of Nevada Restaurant Association”). Much of the case was focused on the import of Nevada Revised Statute (NRS) 608.140, which articulates the circumstances under which an employee may be entitled to recover his or her attorneys’ fees where they prevail in a suit to recover unpaid wages.
Although NRS 608.016 (failure to pay overtime wages), NRS 608.018 (failure to timely pay all wages due and owing) and NRS 608.020 through 608.050 (payment upon termination) are silent as to whether a private right of action exists to enforce their terms, the Court held that a private right of action does exist. The Court reasoned: “When no clear statutory language authorizes a private right of action, one may be implied if the Legislature so intended…We conclude that the Legislature intended to create a private cause of action for unpaid wages pursuant to NRS 608.140. It would be absurd to think that the legislature intended a private cause of action to obtain attorney’s fees for an unpaid wages suit but no private cause of action to bring the suit itself. The Legislature enacted NRS 608.140 to protect employees, and the legislative scheme is consistent with private causes of action for unpaid wages under NRS Chapter 608.”
Based on this decision, it is expected that Nevada employees will file lawsuits in civil court for unpaid wages and attorneys fees. Accordingly, it is more important than ever for Nevada employers to be in compliance with wage and hour requirements in Nevada. Employers are advised to consult with qualified legal counsel to ensure that they have adopted compliant policies and practices to avoid exposure both to individual and class action wage and hour lawsuits as well as Labor Commissioner Claims.
SHLC will continue monitoring court decisions for additional developments on this issue and will update the blog as we receive more information. The Neville decision as well as other wage and hour laws will be discussed during SHLC’s “Update from the Nevada Labor Commissioner” Webinar on February 7, 2018, with Special Guest Speaker Shannon Chambers, the Nevada Labor Commissioner. For more information visit: https://suttonhague.com/events/
Read the full decision here.