Nevada Supreme Court clarifies connection between healthcare coverage, minimum wage

by Deanna L. Forbush

Nevada is unique in so many ways. For instance, unlike other states, Nevada has a constitutional provision that authorizes a two-tiered minimum wage. It’s called the Minimum Wage Amendment (MWA). Under the MWA, if an employer provides qualifying health benefits, a minimum-wage employee may be paid $1 per hour less than the upper-tier minimum wage. But what does “provide” mean? Must the employer actually enroll an employee in a qualifying health benefit plan? Or is it sufficient if the employer only “offers” a qualifying plan? That’s a significant distinction, with major economic ramifications for Nevada employers whose payrolls include minimum-wage employees.

In a unanimous opinion issued October 27, the full Nevada Supreme Court looked at the plain language of the MWA to conclude that “provide” means “offer,” thereby partially overruling a lower court’s finding that an employee must actually “enroll” in an employer’s health benefit plan before the employer is entitled to pay the lower-tier minimum wage.

The MWA also caps the health benefit premiums payable by the employee at no more than 10 percent of the employee’s gross taxable income from the employer. The supreme court upheld the lower court’s determination that tips aren’t included in calculating the 10 percent premium cap.

We will have complete coverage of the Nevada Supreme Court’s decision and what it means for you in an upcoming issue of Nevada Employment Law Letter.

Deanna L. Forbush is a partner at Morris Polich & Purdy LLP in Las Vegas and the editor of Nevada Employment Law Letter. You can reach her at dforbush@mpplaw.com.

About Nevada Employment Law Letter:
Excerpted from Nevada Employment Law Letter and written by attorneys at the law firm of Morris Polich & Purdy LLP. The contents of NEVADA EMPLOYMENT LAW LETTER are intended for general information and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Contact the attorneys at Morris Polich & Purdy LLP.
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