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October 24, 2014

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labor:

State will gather opinions about minimum wage in Friday workshop

State Labor Commissioner Thoran Towler, accused in a lawsuit of shortchanging minimum-wage workers, has scheduled a public workshop in Las Vegas and Carson City to get comments on Nevada’s law.

Towler said his boss, Bruce Breslow, director of the state Department of Business and Industry, requested the workshop.

“With the uncertainty of both employers and employees surrounding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the potential impacts on the current wage structure outlined in the Nevada Constitution, we are taking this opportunity to open up these workshop sessions to solicit public comment,” Breslow said.

The session will be held at 9 a.m. Friday at 555 E. Washington Avenue, Room 2450, in Las Vegas and at the office of the state Gaming Control Board in Carson City.

Nevada’s minimum wage is $8.25 an hour. But if the employer provides health insurance coverage, the mandatory wage is reduced to $7.25 an hour.

A lawsuit has been filed in district court in Carson City challenging the interpretation of the minimum-wage law. The suit, filed on behalf of Las Vegas restaurant employee Cody Hancock, says that if the employee declines the business's offer of insurance coverage, he or she is paid $1 less an hour than entitled.

It says the rules adopted by Towler are flawed.

The state Attorney General’s Office has asked the suit be dismissed. Deputy Attorney General Scott Davis said the suit is deficient because the claimant did not go through the process of asking the labor commissioner to change the ruling.

Davis also said the suit is asking the district court to adopt a new rule without public input, which violates the separation of powers doctrine.

The minimum-wage law was amended into the Nevada Constitution in 2006 with voter approval. It sets up a system for the state to follow the federal law.

“The landscape of our workforce has changed as a result of the ACA," Breslow said in Tuesday's announcement. "It’s time to hear from Nevada’s workers and employers again on this subject.”

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