Nevada Supreme Court Issues Long-Anticipated Interpretation of Minimum Wage Amendment

Since 2006, Nevada’s two-tiered minimum wage has allowed employers who offer qualifying health benefits to employees to pay a dollar less per hour than employees to whom such benefits are not offered. However, until the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision in the closely-watched MDC Restaurants, LLC v. Eighth Judicial District (Diaz) on May 31, 2018, there was no clear standard for what health benefits qualified for the lower minimum wage. The Court held that the Nevada Minimum Wage Amendment (“MWA”) “requires an employer who pays one dollar per hour less in wages to provide a benefit in the form of health insurance at least equivalent to the one dollar per hour in wages that the employee would otherwise receive.” (Previous SHLC posts regarding Nevada’s Minimum Wage Amendment can be found here and here.)

The safest course for employers after this decision will be to pay the higher minimum wage of $8.25, particularly as litigation on the subject is likely to continue. Employers who currently pay employees less than $8.25 per hour should contact counsel immediately to evaluate whether the health benefits they offer to employees will meet the standard set out in Diaz.