December 16, 2017

Nevada Supreme Court Holds that Employees Have a Private Right of Action for Unpaid Wages

In a case of first impression in Nevada, Neville v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 133 Nev. Adv. Op. 95 (Dec. 7, 2017), the Nevada Supreme Court held that employees have a private right of action to recoup unpaid wages under Nevada.

Nevada’s statutes mandating payment to employees for hours worked, overtime, and upon termination do not explicitly authorize a private right of action. Instead, enforcement appears to be vested exclusively with the Labor Commissioner. However, the Court found that the Legislature clearly intended to create a private right of action for unpaid wages because NRS 608.140 provides for the assessment of attorney fees to employees in actions to recover unpaid wages. “It would be absurd to think that the Legislature intended to create a private cause of action to obtain attorney fees for an unpaid wages suit but no private cause of action to bring the suit itself.”

What Employers Should Do

This ruling clears the way for a new wave of civil litigation in Nevada. Employers must be mindful that in a lawsuit for unpaid wages, the potential attorney’s fee recovery typically is far greater than the alleged unpaid wages and will undoubtedly drive the filing of these lawsuits. Full compliance with Nevada’s wage-and-hour laws is now more important than ever.