The Nevada Supreme Court
ruled Thursday that the Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation
must release records of audits that were used to determine prostitutes in legal
brothels are employees rather than independent contractors.
After the department made
that ruling, operators of the Love Ranch filed a public records request asking
for the audit records that led to that ruling. DETR officials refused arguing
the information is confidential and exempt from disclosure.
District Judge Todd Russell
ruled in favor of the brothel operators and the state appealed.
“Because we conclude that
(state statute) does not categorically exempt the requested records from
disclosure, we affirm the district court’s order granting Love Ranch’s petition
and compelling DETR to comply with the request,” the opinion by Justice Abbi
DETR in 2016 ruled that the
prostitutes were employees of the Lyon County brothel and that the brothel
operator had to contribute to the unemployment compensation trust fund like
Love Ranch filed an
administrative appeal and asked that the state produce all information and
records related to the audit as well as audits and decisions involving other
brothels, agreeing that personal confidential information could be redacted.
State statute generally
states that all governmental books and records are open to the public unless
specifically exempted from that requirement. The opinion states that
restrictions on public access to governmental records should be, “narrowly
construed” and that the governmental entity bears the burden of proving records
The opinion concludes that,
“the requested information was not confidential by law and that the interest in
nondisclosure did not outweigh the public’s interest.”
The justices say that the
exemption DETR claims applies in this case only protects the person’s identity
and the employment unit’s identity from disclosure, not the audit documents and
decision making process. They noted that the Love Ranch records request
specifically stated they were not seeking information that would reveal
The ruling was unanimous.