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

McDonald Carano has helped to shape the Nevada business and legal landscape for 70 years. With more than 60 lawyers and government affairs professionals in our offices in Las Vegas and Reno, we are Nevada's law firm for business. We proudly represent Fortune 500 companies, financial and governmental institutions, fast-growth and mid-market companies, entrepreneurs, start-up ventures, non-profit organizations and individuals. Our attorneys deliver cross-discipline, one-stop, commercial law and government affairs counsel. Our dedication to clients, innovative thinking and practical solutions based in sound business and legal judgments are at the heart of our practice. For more information, visit mcdonaldcarano.com, call 775.788.2000 (Reno office), or 702.873.4100 (Las Vegas office) or reach us by email at info@mcdonaldcarano.com.

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