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Nevada Supreme Court says taxi drivers entitled to minimum wage; rules against cab companies

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RENO, Nevada — The Nevada Supreme Court ruled Thursday in favor of Las Vegas taxi drivers who say three cab companies owe them back wages for failing to pay the minimum wage, upholding a 2006 state constitutional amendment that did away with previous exemptions for some classes of workers.

In a 4-3 decision, the court ordered a Clark County district judge to reconsider his earlier decision that the cab companies are exempt from minimum wage laws based on a 1965 law.

The high court ruled the constitutional amendment Nevada voters approved in 2006 raising the minimum wage also wiped out the former exemptions that kept employers from having to pay it to taxi and limousine drivers over the previous 40 years.

Judge Ronald Israel erred when he earlier dismissed the cabbies' suit based on the companies' claims the amendment didn't trump the old law, Justice Michael Cherry wrote in Thursday's majority opinion reversing and remanding the case to the Clark County court.

Cherry said the amendment clearly overrides the old exemptions enacted in the 1965 law, which also applied to babysitters, housekeepers, some farm workers and commissioned salespersons, as well as certain persons with severe disabilities.

The ruling means the tax drivers can return to district court to try to prove their case against Nevada Yellow Cab, Nevada Checker Cab and Nevada Star Cab.

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