What's Your Unpaid Wage Claim Worth in Nevada?

Learn how to calculate what you're owed in unpaid wages and penalties in Nevada.

In Nevada, state and federal laws determine how much you must be paid, when you must be paid, and more. If your employer has failed to timely pay you what you have earned, you may be entitled to recover not only your unpaid wages, but also penalties intended to punish your employer for wage violations. Below, we explain how to calculate and collect what you are owed.

Unpaid Wages

Employees must be paid at least the minimum wage per hour. You are entitled to be paid the highest minimum wage that applies where you work, whether that's the federal, state, or local rate. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour. In Nevada, the minimum wage is $7.25 if your employer provides health benefits or $8.25 if not. If the city or county where you work has a higher minimum wage, you are entitled to that amount.

To calculate your unpaid minimum wage claim, take the difference between what you were actually paid per hour and what you should have been paid per hour, and then multiply that amount by the total number of hours you worked. For example, if you work for an employer that does not provide health benefits, and you were paid only $7.25 an hour for your first three weeks of full-time work, you would be entitled to $1 times 120 hours (40 hours × 3 weeks), or a total of $120.

In most states, employers may pay a lower minimum wage to employees who earn tips, as long as they make enough in tips to earn at least minimum wage per hour. Nevada does not allow this, however. Tipped employees in Nevada are entitled to the same basic minimum wage as everyone else. To learn more, see Nevada Laws for Tipped Employees.

Unpaid Overtime

Failing to pay the overtime premium is one of the most common wage violations by employers. Under federal and state law, employees are entitled to overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a workweek. Nevada law also provides for daily overtime: Employees who earn less than 1.5 times the minimum wage are entitled to overtime if they work more than eight hours in a day.

Not all employees are entitled to earn overtime, though. While hourly, nonexempt employees have a right to overtime, other categories of employees are exempt. The most common exemptions are for outside salespeople and “white-collar” employees who do professional, managerial, and high-level administrative work (see ourovertime page for more details and exemption categories). Unless your employer can prove that you fit into one of these narrow exemptions, you are entitled to receive overtime.

If your employer has failed to pay you for overtime hours, your unpaid wages are the difference between what you should have been paid and what you were paid. For overtime hours, employees are entitled to time-and-a-half. This means that you're owed an extra 50% of your hourly rate, on top of your regular pay. For example, if you are usually paid $16 an hour, you are entitled to be paid $24 an hour for overtime work.

Example: Joaquin is a busser at a restaurant. He typically earns $9 an hour and works 40 hours a week. When local hotels are booked for a big convention, Joaquin picks up an extra eight-hour shift. He is entitled to $9 an hour for the first 40 hours ($360) and $13.50 for eight overtime hours ($108), for a total of $468.

Unpaid Breaks and Time Off

In Nevada, employees have the right to a 30-minute unpaid meal break if they work a continuous eight-hour shift. Nevada employees are also entitled to a paid ten-minute break for every four hours (or major fraction of four hours) they work, unless their whole workday lasts less than three-and-a-half hours.

Federal law doesn’t give employees the right to any breaks during the workday. However, for employers who choose to provide breaks, federal law requires that you must be paid for:

  • any short breaks (20 minutes or less) during the workday, and
  • any time during which you must work, even if your employer calls it a break. For example, if an office receptionist must eat lunch at her desk in order to cover the phones and accept deliveries, she is entitled to be paid for that time – even if her employer calls it a “lunch break.”

To calculate your unpaid break wages, add up how much time you spent on shorter breaks that should have been paid or breaks that you had to work through or weren’t allowed to take. Multiply this extra time by your hourly rate. And don’t forget overtime: Breaks for which you should have been paid count as hours worked, which means they may push your total hours for the week above 40.

Penalties for Unpaid Wages

Federal law gives employees the right to collect penalties in addition to the wages they should have been paid, if they win their administrative claims or lawsuits. Some of these penalties are described below; additional penalties may be available under state or local law.

If your employer violates the federal minimum wage or overtime laws, you have the right to request liquidated damages. Liquidated damages are available in the amount of your unpaid wages. In other words, if your employer fails to pay you $3,000 in overtime, you can request an additional $3,000 in liquidated damages, for a total award of $6,000.

Nevada law requires your employer to provide your final paycheck immediately if you are fired or laid off, or if you quit, within seven days or on the next scheduled payday (whichever is earlier). If your employer fails to pay you on time, you can collect a penalty of one day's wages for every day your paycheck is late, up to 30 days. If you quit, the penalty begins on the day your paycheck was due. If you were fired or laid off, the penalty begins three days after your paycheck was due.

Filing a Lawsuit

If your employer failed to pay you all of the wages you earned, you can file a lawsuit or a wage claim with theNevada Labor Commissioner. (The Commissioner has made its wage claim form available online; you can select the link from the home page.)

If you plan to move forward with a lawsuit or a wage claim, talk to an experienced Nevada wage and hour lawyer. A lawyer can file a wage claim on your behalf or file a lawsuit in court seeking to collect your unpaid wages. If you win your lawsuit, your attorney can ask the judge to make your employer pay your attorneys' fees.

If you plan to assert your rights, you should act quickly. For claims of violation of Nevada’s minimum wage law, you have two years to file. For other state law violations, you generally have three years to file. For violations of federal law, you have two years to file (unless the employer’s violation was willful, in which case you have three years). A lawyer can also tell you if you have any other claims, such as a breach of contract claim, to which different time limits typically apply.

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