The Nevada Supreme Court was asked Monday to protect the confidentiality of legal brothel audits and procedures sought in a suit over whether prostitutes are employees or independent contractors.
Operators of the Love Ranch are fighting the Employment Security Division’s claim that the working girls there are employees and the operators must pay unemployment insurance and provide them with other rights available to employees.
They argue the prostitutes are independent contractors who rent space in the brothel and don’t owe unemployment insurance to the state.
Love Ranch lawyer Anthony Hall is seeking access to the division’s audit of Love Ranch and other legal, licensed brothels in the state.
ESD lawyer Troy Jordan told the high court those records are confidential by statute and cannot be provided.
“We can’t let out the proprietary data and factual information of other brothels,” he said adding that information includes payroll information and personal information the division collects in audits to determine whether the brothels and the working girls are complying with tax statutes.
In briefs filed in the case, ESD argued the statutes are specific and that the brothel operators are, “simply trying to delay and frustrate the case going forward and the administrative law judge’s ability to declare those workers employees.”
But Hall said that argument “is a red herring.” He said their request for audit information specifically said the state should “redact” the confidential, personal information in the audit files of other brothels.
He said they need the records to determine how auditors determined that the prostitutes are employees, especially since the state has long known and accepted the classification of legal prostitutes as independent contractors, not employees.
Hall’s brief pointed out that in December 2016, the division’s own Board of Review issued an order agreeing that Love Ranch tenants are independent contractors, not employees.
His brief charged that if the state’s stance is accepted, it would result in, “the precise type of secrecy, unaccountability and capriciousness the (Nevada Public Records Act) was intended to root out.”
Carson District Judge Todd Russell agreed with Love Ranch and ordered the Employment Security Division to comply with the records request.
The high court took the case under submission.