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Thomas v. Nevada Yellow Cab Corp.

Supreme Court of Nevada, En Banc

June 26, 2014

CHRISTOPHER THOMAS AND CHRISTOPHER CRAIG, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, Appellants,
v.
NEVADA YELLOW CAB CORPORATION; NEVADA CHECKER CAB CORPORATION; AND NEVADA STAR CAB CORPORATION, Respondents

Appeal from a district court order dismissing a complaint in a minimum wage matter. Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County; Ronald J. Israel, Judge.

Leon Greenberg, a Professional Corporation, and Leon M. Greenberg, Las Vegas, for Appellants.

Tamer B. Botros and Marc C. Gordon, Las Vegas, for Respondents.

Cherry, J. We concur: Pickering, J., Hardesty, J., Douglas, J.

OPINION

Page 519

CHERRY, J.

Appellant taxicab drivers brought an action in the district court claiming damages for unpaid wages pursuant to Article 15, Section 16 of the Nevada Constitution, a constitutional amendment that revised Nevada's then-statutory minimum wage scheme (the Minimum Wage Amendment). The district court held that the Minimum Wage Amendment did not entirely replace the existing statutory minimum wage scheme under NRS 608.250, which in subsection 2 excepts taxicab drivers from its minimum wage

Page 520

provisions. We hold that the district court erred because the text of the Minimum Wage Amendment, by clearly setting out some exceptions to the minimum wage law and not others, supplants the exceptions listed in NRS 608.250(2). Accordingly, we reverse the district court's dismissal order and remand for further proceedings on appellants' minimum wage claims.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Appellants Christopher Thomas and Christopher Craig brought a class action against respondent taxicab companies, arguing that they and similarly situated taxicab drivers had not been paid pursuant to constitutional minimum wage requirements during the course of their employment. The complaint was based on the Minimum Wage Amendment, which was proposed by initiative petition and approved and ratified by the voters in 2004 and 2006, and which raised the state minimum wage to a rate higher than the minimum imposed in Nevada by the Labor Commissioner under NRS 608.250. See Nev. Const. art. 15, § 16. The taxicab companies moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to NRCP 12(b)(5), arguing that the Minimum Wage Amendment did not eliminate the statutory exception for taxicab drivers under NRS 608.250(2)(e). Following a hearing, the district court concluded that the Minimum Wage Amendment did not repeal NRS 608-250 and that the statutory exceptions could be harmonized with the constitutional amendment. Accordingly, because NRS 608.250(2)(e) expressly excludes taxicab drivers from Nevada's minimum wage statutes, the district court granted the taxicab companies' motion to dismiss the complaint. Appellants now bring this appeal.

DISCUSSION

An order granting an NRCP 12(b)(5) motion to dismiss " is subject to a rigorous standard of review on appeal." Buzz Stew, L.L.C. v. City of N. Las Vegas, 124 Nev. 224, 227-28, 181 P.3d 670, 672 (2008) (quotations omitted). " This court presumes all factual allegations in the complaint are true and draws all inferences in favor of the plaintiff . . . . We review all legal conclusions de novo." Stubbs v. Strickland, 129 Nev. ___, ___, 297 P.3d 326, 329 (2013).

The issue on appeal is a purely legal one: Does the Minimum Wage Amendment to the Nevada Constitution, Article 15, Section 16, override the exception for taxicab drivers provided in Nevada's minimum wage statute, NRS 608.250(2)(e)? The Amendment imposes a mandatory minimum wage pertaining to all employees, who are defined for purposes of the Amendment as any persons who are employed by an employer, except for those employees under the age of 18, employees employed by nonprofits for after-school or summer work, and trainees working for no longer than 90 days. Nev. Const. art. 15, § 16(C).[1] In contrast, NRS 608.250(2), which was enacted prior to the Minimum Wage Amendment, excludes six classes of employees from its minimum wage mandate, including taxicab drivers. Appellants, as taxicab drivers excluded from coverage by NRS 608.250, base their claim ...


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