Celebrating 75 Years of Serving Nevada’s Legal, Business, Government, and Civic Communities

Minimum Wage and Marijuana: 2 New Nevada Laws May Have Big Business Impacts

December 25, 2019, Northern Nevada Business View, by Rob Sabo

Two new laws coming into play in the new year could spell big changes for Northern Nevada businesses and employers. The Nevada Minimum Wage Increase Initiative will implement a series of staggered hikes to the minimum wage through 2024, with the minimum wage expected to top out at $12. And AB 132 prohibits employers from denying employment to candidates who test positive for marijuana in pre-employment drug screens. Both initiatives could have wide-ranging impacts, and Northern Nevada attorneys and human resource professionals are working closely with clients and peers to ensure they stay abreast of the pending changes.

Courtney Pino, president of the Northern Nevada Human Resources Association and employee benefits consultant for Assured Partners Consulting, says a wage hike was needed — the real questions have been centered on how and when the hike would take effect. It’s slated to take effect Jan. 1. “Everyone is ramping up for it,” Pino says. “Our minimum wage is very low, so we knew it’s needed. But now we realistically need to make it happen and budget accordingly. Company management teams must strategize and plan accordingly to ensure they have correct personnel budgeting in place moving forward.”

Lindsay Knox, vice president of government affairs for McDonald Carano, says the wage hike could lead to sweeping changes in the demographics of the workforce of Northern Nevada. Some employees could lose their jobs, Knox says, while other jobs could go to older workers rather than teenage youth. “Small businesses are where we are going to see a lot of changes,” Knox says.

Another hot topic among business leaders, HR professionals and legal counsel is Assembly Bill No. 132, which begins Jan. 1 and restricts pre-employment marijuana drug testing. There are certain exemptions, though. Knox advocated for inclusion of some broad language that provides “employer discretion” in the case of safety-sensitive jobs that affect others. Employees such as drivers or heavy equipment operators can have their job offers revoked for a negative test — although businesses still could be legally challenged over an offer termination.

Knox says the language and impacts of AB 132 aren’t particularly clear. In light of that, it behooves businesses to include language in company handbooks, contracts or job offers that define a drug-free workplace. Doing so sets precedent and expectation for the type of workforce the employer desires. And businesses that receive federal funding or grants of any type are exempted because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, Knox notes. To read entire article click here.

About McDonald Carano

In 2024, McDonald Carano celebrates 75 years of serving Nevada’s legal, business, government, and civic communities. More than 60 lawyers and government relations professionals serve state, national, and international clients from our offices in Reno, Las Vegas, and Carson City. McDonald Carano provides legal services and government affairs and advocacy counsel to startups, corporations, trade associations, nonprofits, public entities, high-net-worth individuals, investors, and public-private partnerships throughout Nevada. We are proud to be your Nevada law firm since 1949.

Media Contact

Mark Buckovich


You have chosen to send an email to McDonald Carano. The sending or receipt of this email and the information in it does not in itself create an attorney-client relationship. If you are not already a client, you should not provide us with information that you wish to have treated as privileged or confidential without first speaking to one of our lawyers. If you provide information before we confirm that you are a client and that we are willing and able to represent you, we may not be required to treat that information as privileged, confidential, or protected information, and we may be able to represent a party adverse to you.

I have read this and want to send an email.