Supreme Court: Cab drivers entitled to minimum wage |

Supreme Court: Cab drivers entitled to minimum wage

In a split decision, the Nevada Supreme Court Thursday ruled cab and limousine drivers aren’t exempt from the minimum wage requirement.

A group of drivers sued to force taxicab companies to pay them the minimum wage saying the constitutional amendment approved by voters eliminated the statute exempting them from that requirement.

Cab companies argued the voter approved minimum wage was intended only to increase the minimum wage and did not eliminate the exemptions contained in NRS608.

But a majority of the justices disagreed saying state law is subservient to the state constitution and, therefore, the Minimum Wage Amendment approved in 2006 effectively repeals those exemptions.

That amendment contains a broad definition of who is an employee entitled to the minimum wage and specific exemptions that directly conflict with the statutory exemption for cabbies.

The amendment exempts from the minimum wage only persons under age 18, those employed by a nonprofit group for after school or summer employment or trainees for periods of less than 90 days.

“The statute is implied repealed by the constitutional amendment. The interpretation pushed by cab companies, the opinion states, “would run afoul of the principle of constitutional supremacy.”

The opinion by Justice Michael Cherry was joined by Justices Kris Pickering, Jim Hardesty and Michael Douglas.

Justices Ron Parraguirre, Mark Gibbons and Nancy Saitta disagreed saying the amendment was only intended to increase the minimum wage amount, not impose a completely new statutory scheme and eliminate the exemptions. They argued if that was the intent of the amendment, it would have done so explicitly.

The opinion would also seem to repeal the other exemptions in NRS608.

Those are casual babysitters, domestic employees living in the house where they work, outside sales people who earn commissions, agricultural workers and the severely handicapped specified by the state’s rehabilitation division.

Nevada’s minimum wage is $7.25 an hour for companies who offer health insurance, $8.25 an hour for those who don’t.