Employers that don’t pay their employees the wages they have earned are unfortunately an all-too-common problem. Whether unpaid wages have been accrued through uncompensated overtime, violations of minimum wage requirements, or withheld tips, employers should not be allowed to get away with what amounts to theft. Workers who are victims of wage violations have legal recourse available.
Wage and hour laws are complicated, reflecting the many competing interests in the labor marketplace. One source of complexity is the interplay between state and federal laws. Both federal and state law set minimum wage and other basic labor standards. For many workers in Nevada, the provisions of Chapter 608 of the Nevada Revised Statutes will provide the first line of defense against wage theft.
Chapter 608 provides the framework for a wide range of wage and hour matters for most employers in Nevada. Here are some of the chapter’s provisions:
- Employers cannot require employees to work without compensation during a “trial period.” NRS 608.016.
- Employers cannot discriminate on the basis of sex to pay workers of one sex less than what is paid to workers of the other sex for the same work. NRS 608.017.
- Eligible employees must be paid time-and-a-half for overtime (more than 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day for employees who work five days a week). NRS 608.018.
- Employers must immediately pay unpaid wages and other accrued benefits to an employee who is fired. An employee who quits must be paid all accrued amounts within seven days or on the regular payday, whichever comes first. NRS 608.020, 608.030.
- Employers are required to establish regular paydays. NRS 608.080.
- Employers cannot require employees to refund earned wages or decrease compensation without at least seven days’ notice. NRS 608.100.
- Employers must maintain detailed wage records. NRS 608.115.
An employee who has had wages unlawfully withheld or unpaid has a number of legal tools available. First, the law provides that employees who are fired or laid off obtain a lien against the employer’s property for unpaid wages until they are paid in full. NRS 608.050. Second, in the event of a successful lawsuit to recover unpaid wages the employer must pay the employee’s reasonable attorney fees. NRS 608.140. This second point is crucial: an employee need not hesitate to seek legal help for the recovery of wages solely out of concern about legal fees.
Finally, a worker can also file a complaint with the Nevada Labor Commissioner. The Commissioner has the authority to pursue administrative as well as criminal charges against employers who violate wage and hours laws. Bringing the authority of the state to bear against an employer who has acted in bad faith can be a powerful tool for recovering what is owed and preventing future violations.
The law firm of Greenman Goldberg Raby Martinez represents working people in the Las Vegas area. If you have questions about how to pursue unpaid wages we can help. Call us today for a free attorney consultation at 702-388-4476 or send us a request on our contact page.