Doe Dancer I v. La Fuente, Inc.

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Supreme Court reversed the order of the district court granting summary judgment against Plaintiffs, who argued that they were employees of Defendant within the context of the Minimum Wage Amendment (MWA), Nev. Const. art. XV, section 16, holding that summary judgment was improper.

Plaintiff, dancers, demanded minimum wages from Defendant, a men's club. Defendant refused to pay because it considered Plaintiffs independent contractors. Plaintiffs brought this class action seeking a ruling that they were employees rather independent contractors and were therefore entitled to minimum wages. The district court concluded that Nev. Rev. Stat. 608.0155 applied to Plaintiffs, rendering them independent contractors ineligible for minimum wages. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiffs were employees within the MWA's meaning; and (2) Nev. Rev. Stat. 608.0155 does not abrogate the constitutional protections to which Plaintiffs were entitled.

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137 Nev., Advance Opinion 3 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEVADA JANE DOE DANCER I; JANE DOE DANCER II; JANE DOE DANCER III; AND JANE DOE DANCER V, INDIVIDUALLY, AND ON BEHALF OF A CLASS OF SIMILARLY SITUATED INDIVIDUALS, Appellants, vs. LA FUENTE, INC., AN ACTIVE CORPORATION, Respondent. No. 78078 FILE FEB 25 2021 HIEF DEPLi FY CLERK Appeal from a district court order granting summary judgment in a minimum wage class action. Eighth Judicial District Court, Clark County; Kerry Louise Earley, Judge. Reversed and remanded. Bighorn Law and Kimball J. Jones, Las Vegas; Rusing Lopez & Lizardi, PLLC, and Michael J. Rusing, Tucson, Arizona, for Appellants. Hartwell Thalacker, Ltd., and Doreen Spears Hartwell, Las Vegas; Schulten Ward Turner & Weiss, LLP, and Dean R. Fuchs, Atlanta, Georgia, for Respondent. BEFORE THE COURT EN BANC. SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA (0) 1947A 41D. 21- orSior OPINION By the Court, PICKERING, J.: This case is a sequel to Terry u. Sapphire Gentlemen's Club, which adopted the federal economic realities test to guide courts in determining whether an employment relationship exists in the context of Nevada's statutory minimum wage laws, NRS Chapter 608. 130 Nev. 879. 888, 336 P.3d 951, 958 (2014). Applying that test to the provisions of NRS Chapter 608 as they then existed, this court held that performers at the Sapphire men's club were employees, not independent contractors, and accordingly entitled to statutory minimum wages under that chapter. The Legislature subsequently enacted NRS 608.0155, which established "for the purposes of [NRS Chapter 608r a conclusive presumption of independent contractor status for certain workers meeting specified criteria, regardless of whether those workers might otherwise qualify as employees under Terry and the economic realities test, thus expanding the ranks of independent contractors and excluding previously qualifying workers from statutory minimum wage protections. In this appeal, appellants (Doe Dancers) similarly argue they are in fact employees, not independent contractors, but this time within the context of Article 15, Section 16 of the Nevada Constitution, the Minimum Wage Amendment (MWA), rather than NRS Chapter 608. The extent of the MWA's reach is a question Terry left open, see 130 Nev. at 883, 336 P.3d at 955, and to which NRS 608.01 55's application is less obvious. Accordingly, to resolve Doe Dancers appeal, we must again interpret the term "employee," this time pursuant to the MWA, apply that interpretation to the circumstances at issue here, and then determine whether NRS 608.0155s statutory expansion of the definition of independent contractor-SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 2 04 1947A 411401D •„,,i,4 , :421,k2g....Tr177.1fric, 1.)4Arj---zek „_ which is the opposite side of employee on the relational coin, see, e.g., Debra T. Landis, Annotation, Determination of "Independent Contractor" and "Employee" Status for Purposes of § 3(3)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 USCS § 203(e)(1)), 51 A.L.R. Fed. 702 (1981) (collecting cases)--excludes workers who would otherwise be MWA employees from its protections. We hold that the same economic realities test we applied in the context of statutory minimum wage claims in Terry applies to the constitutional MWA claims at issue here; that the Doe Dancers are employees, not independent contractors, under that test; and that NRS 608.0155 does not abrogate the constitutional protections to which they are therefore entitled. Thus, the district court erred by granting sumrnary judgment in favor of the respondent and against the Doe Dancers, and we reverse and remand. I. Each of the Doe Dancers has, at some point, performed at Cheetahs Lounge, a men's club owned by respondent La Fuente, (Cheetahs). Each Doe .Dancer performed at the venue for a different period of time and with differing experience. But, acccirding to testimony by Cheetahs operations manager, Diana Ponterelli, Cheetahs permitted the Doe Dancers to dance there based on certain shared qualifications-specifically. they showed up with a valid sheriffs card, state ID, work license, and costume, were not "trashed," and were "standing up." Cheetahs did not require that any• Doe Dancer have prior dance training. Cheetahs did not check any Doe Dancer's references or employment history. Cheetahs did not ask that any Doe Dancer audition—not even "just: to turn in circlee—before Cheetahs gave heri a shift. lit appears that the Doe Dancers all identify as female; thus, we use feminine pronouns. SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA (0) I947A atte:44 3 The moment Doe Dancers respective shifts began, however. Cheetahs' tone changed. The club imposed controls on Doe Dancers beginning at the door----requiring that they pay a "house fee" at entry as well as an "off stage fee," or else check-in with the D.J. for on-stage rotation. 1V1yriad written and posted limitations On the Doe .Dancers' costumes and performances met them inside the club—setting a minimum heel height of two-inches, grip strips, mandatory; prohibiting "clog type" shoes, "street clothes," "cotton material," "tears in-your stockings or outfits;" glitter and body oil; requiring graceful Stage exits; a.nd defining appropriate 1)64 placethent during - performances and while interacting with 'customerS. And, the posted ruleS carried on, addressing dancer manners (Keep feet off the furniture) and etiquette (Working 'together is very important." "PLEASE GIVE [other dancers] THE SAME RESPECT THAT• YOU WOUI,D LIKE THEM TO GIVE YOU."); social interactions ("[Dlo not walk up to a customer and just ask him for a dance, talk to them,- get to know him a little . . . leave a great and lasting impression. Sit at leaSt one song with theni first"); personal hygiene (A MUST"); wOund care (ALL CUTS TO BE COVERED WITH . . BAND-AIDS ."); transportation CCABS AND YOUR RIDE WILL PICK YOU UP- NI.' THE DRESSING ROOM 'DOOR "Anyone giving you a ride . . . is not allowed in the club during your shift."); and parking ("ALL NIGHT TIME ENTERTAINERS---AFTER 7PM WILL VALET PARK OR HAND KEYS -OVER TO HOUSE MOM.").. The posted rules further spiral into the sort of minutia likely familiar to many who have worked in' a- workplace CAII itemS [in the refrigerator] out by the end of [the] shift.' "You are responsible for ail your- own things." ‘No fo(Jd or 'drink is to be lept in your loCker . BUGS!!!"); Constraints perhaPs sOineWhat less familiar. bUt that still may be comMon in certain -service SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA (0) I 947A APIa sectors CNO SMOKING (R GUM CHEWING ON THE FLOOR." "No CELL phones on the floor." "No purses allowed on the floor." "Put all your belongings in. [yourl locker, not under the counter."); and ultimately singular and seemingly intrusive limitations CLET MANAGER KNQW OF [YOUR PRESCRIPTION] MEDICATIONS." "NO GLASS in the dressing room. NO PLASTIC CUPS on the dressing room floor." "DO NOT LEAVE YOUR SHIFT WITHOU[T] CHECKING OUT WITH THE MANAGER AND THE DJ." "No boyfriends, husbands, or lovers Allowed in the Club while you are [w]orking." "Ask if you can put something in [the refrigerator]." "YOU WILL BE CHECKED ON ALL SHIFTS FOR BEING INTOXICATED BY HOUSEMOM." "You MUST NOT refuse a drink. or shooter from a customer." "You MUST change costumes at least three times during' a sh ift."). The record does not allow for misunderstanding—Ponterelli's testimony and the management- log book clearly demonstrate that these rules were enforced as posted. Indeed, even above and beyond those posted rules, Cheetahs seems to have set less tangible standards for the Doe Dancers, with the log book indicating that multiple performers- were prohibited from dancing at t.he club or otherwise disciplined for having a "bad attitude," "offend[ing] . . . male customers," being "total ghetto," acting like a "prima donna," being "very disrespectable to [management]," or having a "poor, rude, nasty attitude toward [staff]." And Ponterelli similarly testified that a central characteristic shared by prospective performers who Cheetahs ultimately did not allow to dance was-- a perceived "attitude" problem. Before dancing at Cheetahs, each Doe Dancer was required to sign a "Dancer Performer's Lease agreement with Cheetahs-. Under these SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 5 (0) I947A algapio : agreements (1) Cheetahs purports to "lease] to Performer and Performer leases from [Cheetahs] the non-exclusive right during normal business hours to use the stage area and certain other portions of [Cheetahs' premises] . . . for the performing of live nude and/or semi-nude entertainment", and (2) any employment relationship is "SPECIFICALLY DISAVOW[EDJ." Nothing in these agreements diminishes the control that Cheetahs reserved the right to exert through its posted rules and commentary. To the contrary, the form of lease agreements the dancers signed specified that Cheetahs "shall have the right to impose . . . rules arid regulations upon the use of [Cheetahs] by [a performer] . . . in its sole and absolute discretion." (Emphasis added.) Despite their having contractually "disa vow [ed]" any employment relationship with Cheetahs in the Lease agreement, the Doe Dancers claimed they were, in fact, employees within the legal meaning of the term. They accordingly demanded minimum wages from the club. which Cheetahs refused to pay because it considered them independent contractors. As a result, the Doe Dancers brought the underlying class action, in which the Doe Dancers and Cheetahs filed cross tnotions for summary judgment. The Doe Dancers sOught a ruling that they were employees rather than independent contractors, as a mAtter of law, and entitled to minimum wages under both NRS Chapter 608 and t.he MWA; Cheetahs sought a ruling that the Doe Dancers were conclusively presumed to be independent contractors pursuant to NRS 608.0155s expanded definition of the phrase, and therefore not employees or eligible for the minimum wages demanded. The district court • concluded that NRS 608.0155 applied to the Doe Dancers, rendering them independent centractors ineligible for m inimum wages under both NRS Chapter 608 and SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA (0) t947A 411/gla. 6 1"—". the MWA, and granted the clUb's motion for summary judgment while denying the Doe Dancers' cross motion. This appeal followed. As noted, in Terry, we determined that certain performers—. laboring under circumstances largely similar to those of the Doe Dancers-were "employeee within the meaning of NRS Chapter 608 (governing "Compen.sation, Wages and Hour?), not independent contractors as Sapphire had classified them, Such that they were 'entitled to the state statutory minimum .wage. See 130 Nev. at 892, 336 P.3d at 960. And in the district court, the Doe .Dancers demanded both statutory minimum wages in accordance with Terry and constitutional minimum wages pursuant to the MWA, the proper application of which Terry left unanswered. See 130 Nev. at 883, 336 P.3d at 955. On appeal, however, the Doe Dancers have abandoned their • statute-based claims, instead relying Solely on' the conStitutional protections the MWA extends to "employees" This raises, as a queStion of firstimpression,.the extent of the MWA'S -reach. And. because the • district- court denied the Doe Dancers' -motion for summary judgment and granted Cheetahs on. the ground that NRS 608.0155, -which - the Legislature enacted in 2015, applied to negate both categorieS of the Doe Dancers' claims, the resolution Of this appeal likewise involves questions of the constitutional supremacy of the MWA, 1;vhich was first approved by voters in the 2004 general'election. We examine- all .of these questions de novo W. Cab Co. v. Eighth judicial DiSt. Court, 133 Nev; 65, 73,-390 P.M 662, 610 '(2017) -(reviewing questions of cOnstitutional interpretatiOn- de novo); Torres v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber CO., 130 Nev. 22, 25, 317 1.3d 828, 830 (2014) (reviewing questionS of Statutory construction de novo); Wood v_ SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA (0) i947A 44Stra . r "- Safeway, Inc., 121 Nev. 724, 729, 121 P.3d 1026, 1029 (2005) (reviewing grant of summary judgment de novo). • A. If the. Doe Dancers do• not qualify for MWA protections, the constitutional assessment of NRS 608.0155 in Part III, infra, would not need to follow. The threshold question, then, is the proper interpretation of the MWA. The MWA speaks in sweeping terms. It mandates that "[Oath employer shall pay a wage to each employee." And it defineS "employee" broadly, with only the narrowest of exceptions: "'Employee means any person who is employed by an employer.. . . but does not include an employee who is under eighteen (18) years of age, employed by a nonprofit organization for after school or summer employment or as a trainee for a period not longer than ninety (90) days." Nev. Const. art. 15, § 16(C) (emphasis added). Though it borders on rote to do so at this point, we note that the definition's text is not alone sufficient to guide our interpretation. Cf. Leven v. Frey, 123 Nev. 399, 403, 168 P.3d 712, 715 (2007) (noting that where a law's language is "plain and its meaning clear, the courts will apply that plain language"). Nor does the surrounding language place it in meaningful explanatory context. Nev. Const. art. 15, § 16(C) (defining an employer as any "entity that may employ individuals or enter into contracts of employmenr). Indeed, we previously assessed subsection C as "tautological," Terry, 130 Nev. at 884, 336 P.3d at 955, which asšessment still holds. Accordingly. we must look to external aids of interpretation. See Orion Portfolio Servs. 2, LLC v. County of Clark, 126 Nev. - 397, 402, 245 P.3d 527, 531 (2010). This exercise highlights the extent to which Terry's echoes resound here—the definition of employee in Terry was similarly ambiguouš, SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA OM 1947A 44/Pg. Ij2::. 44411 see NRS 608.010 (defining employees as "persons in the service of an employer under any appointment or contract of hire or apprenticeship, express or implied, oral or written, whether lawfully or unlawfully employed), and its relevant context was likewise unhelpful. See Terry, 130 Nev. at 883-84, 336 P.3d at 955 (discussing the MWA and finding it not helpful to the statute's textual interpretation). Accordingly, in Terry, despite expressly noting the divergence between the language of NRS 608.010 and 29 U.S.C. § 203(e)(1) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), we looked to federal case law interpreting the FLSA to understand the former, recognizing that "the Legislature has long relied on the federal minimum wage law to lay a foundation of worker protections that this State could build upon." 130 Nev. at 884, 336 P.3d at 955. But in the context of the MWA, federal FLSA law carries even greater persuasive. weight, given that the relevant language of the MWA (defining employee as "any person who is employed by an employer," Nev. Const. art. 15, § 16(C))•so closely mirrors the FLSA 29 U.S.C. § 203(e)(1) (defining employee as "any individual employed by an employee). Amazon.com, Inc. v. Integrity Staffing Sols., Inc., 905 F.3d 387, 398 (6th Cir. 2018) (stating that as a general proposition, "when interpreting state provisions that have analogous federal counterparts, Nevada courts look to federal law unless the state statutory language is 'materially different from or inconsistent with federal law" (internal quotations omitted)); see also Middleton v. State, 114 Nev. 1089, 1107 n.4, 968 P.2d 296, 309 n.4 (1998) (using federal law to interpret state statute because the two were "largely equivalene). The FLSA's definition of employment predates the MWA by decades, and courts' applications of the "economic realities test" to that language have been "nearly ubiquitous" during that period. (Jarnpusano v. SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 10) 1947A COOD :1: i.fCa -r i.vkl ssi ":1r. • Lusitano Constr. LLC, 56 A.3d 303, 308 rM..d. Ct. Spec. App. 2012); see also Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, Pub. L. No. 718, § 3, 52 Stat. 1060, 1060 (1938) (enacting the federal definition); Goldberg v. Whitaker House Coop., Inc., 366 U.S. 28, 33 (1961) (applying the economic realities test). In light of this, the definition of empkyee found in the FLSA and mirrored. by the MWA "has acquired . . . a technical legal sense" that informs its meaning. Antonin Scalia & Bryan A. Garner, Readin.g Law: Me Interpretation of Legal TextS 324 (2012); cf. Nev. Atty. for injured Workers 6. Nev. • &III Insurers Ass11,.126 Nev. 74, 84, 225 P.3d 1265, 1271 (201.0) (presuming "that the Legislature enacted the statute with full knowledge of existing statutes relating to the same subject?' (internal quotations omitted)). This canon of .construction promotes legal. Stability; put differently, the members of the bar practicing in this• field of law should. be able to "assume that the [same] term bears the same meaning,". abSent sonie clear -indicia to the contrary. Scalia & Garner, supra, at 324. • And, nothing here signalF. a.gainst ..application of the well-established proposition that "if a word [or phra,.%lis obviously transplanted from another legal Source, . it brings the old s,:-41 With it." Felix Frankfurter, Some Reflections on the Reading of Statutes, 47 Colum. L. Rev. 527; 537 (1947); cf. Ballots; Labor Conim'r; Wages, 05-04 Op. Nev. Atey Gen. 18, 18 (2005) (stating that in this conteict "the voters should be presumed to know the state of the law in existence related to the subject Upon- • which they vote (citing Bounties for Destruetion -.of . .Predatoty Animals, 34-153 Op. Nev, Ait'y Gen: (1934))). This tracks with what we hziVe previously stated regarding the breadth of the MWA's terms. which establish a protective wage flOor for workers in this state. See, e.g., iterry, 130 Nev. at 884, 336 P.3d at 955 (noting that the MWA. "signal[s] this state's Voters' with that more, not SUPREME Gown. oF NEVADA 10 (01 1947A 4e. fewer, persons would receive minimum wage protectione); Thomas u. Nev. Yellow Cab Corp., 130 Ney. 484, 488, 327 P.3d 518, 521 (2014) (noting the MWNs "broad . definition of employee and very specific exemptions"). Relatedly, as a practical matter, the MWA can only offer protections equal to or broader than the FLSA's. See Jane Roe Dancer .I-1711 u. Golden Coin, Ltd., 124 Nev. 28, 33, 176 P.3d 271, 274 (2008) (citing FLSA savings clause as evidence of congressional intent "to leave room for state law to establish higher minimum wages than those set by the FLSA" (emphasis added)); .see also 123 Am. Jur. Trials 1, § 7 (2012) (noting that "Nhe FLSA sets the lowest bar for compliance and permits states and other jurisdictions to enact laws that are more rigorous"). And, as we have previously noted, "a broader or more comprehensive coverage of employeee than that provided under the economic realities test "would be difficult to franie." Terry, 130 Nev. at 886, 336 P.3d at 956 (quoting United States v. Rosenwasser, 323 U.S. 360, 362 (1945)). Nor would an ad hoc judicial conjuring of some test with an identical reach be advisable, particularly given the desirability of stability discussed above and Cheetah& failure to cogently argue for any suet' alternative. Edwards v. Emperor's Garden Rest., 122 Nev. 317, 330 & n.38, 130 P.3d 1280, 1288 & n.38 (2006). In sum, we hold that the federal economic realities test applies to define the scope of the MWNs constitutional definition of employee. B. Because the economic realities test is based on a totality of circumstances, courts have used a range of factors in their analyses of the same. See Terry, 130 Nev. at 888-89, 336 P.3d at 958. There are six that "courts nearly universally considee: SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 11 (th 1947A 440. 7 1) the degree of the alleged employer's right to control the manner in which the work is to be performed; 2) the alleged employee's opportunitY for profit or loss depending upon his managerial skill; 3) the alleged employee's investment in equipment or materials required for his task, or his employment of helpers; 4) whether the service rendered requires a special skill; 5) the degree .of permanence of the working relationship; and 6) whether the service rendered is an integral part of the alleged employer's business. Id. at 888-89, 336 P.3d at 958. Applying these factors to find an employment relationship in Terry, we noted that our holding was, at that time, consistent with "the great weight of authority" using the economic realities test, which had "almost 'without exception . . . found an employment relationship and required . . . nightclub[s] to pay [their] dancers a minimum wage."' Id. at 892, 336 P.3d at 960 (quoting Clincy v. Galardi S. Enters., lnc., 808 F. Supp. 2d 1326, 1343 (N.D. Ga. 2011) (collecting cases)). And it remains true that "courts continue to trend . . . to allowing exotic dancers coverage under [the] FLSA" and the corresponding economic realities test as employees, rather than excluding them from minimum wage protections as independent contractors. J. Dalton Person, Exotic Dancers & FLSA: Are Strippers Employees?, 69 Ark. L. Rev. 173, 179 (2016) (collecting case0.2 2See also Verrna v. 3001 Castor, Inc., 937 F.3d 221, 232 (3d Cir. 2019) (dancers were employees under the economic realities test); McFeeley Jackson St. Entrn't, LLC, 47 F. Supp. 3d 260, 273-75 (D: Md. 2014), affd; 825 F.3d •235 (4th Cir. 2016) (accord); Gilbo v. Agment LLC, No. 1:19-cv. 00767, 2020 WL 759548, at *7 (N.D. Ohio Feb. 14, 2020) (accord); Hurst v. SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 12 (D) 1947A That said, exotic dancers are not. as a class. categorically employees entitled to constitutional niiniyoum wages under the MWA, as opposed to independent contractors. Instead, that question must be decided case by case, with reference to the particular circumstances of the relationship involved. Here, the material facts surrounding the Doe Dancers work for Cheetahs are undisputed. The question of their employment status is therefore one of law, Terry, 130 Nev. at 889, 336 .P.3d at 958; • see also Purdharn v. Fairfax Cty.. Sch. Bd., 637 F.3d 421, 428 (4th Cir. 2011) (noting that the questiOn Of whether a worker is an employee under' FLSA is one of laiv); Baker v. Flint Eng'g & Constr. Co., 137 F.3d 1436. 1441 (10th Ci.r. •1998) (accord); Donovan v. Tehco, Inc., 642 F.2d 141, 143 n.4 (5th Cir. 1981) (accord), to which de novo review applies. Terry, 130 Nev. at. 889, 336 P.3d at 958. With regard to the first factor of the econ.omic realitiestest, that is, Cheetahs' "right to control the manner in which" the .Doe Dance.rs performed, the record doeš not evince ariy meaningful difference between the circumstances here and those in Terry that would• -weigh against ,A finding of employment. Both here and. in Terry, the clubs set various rtiles governing dancers' appearances, performances, and on-shift conduct. See Youngelson, 354 F. Supp. 31 1362, 1378 (N.D. Ga. 2019) (accord); Shaw b. Set Enters., Inc., 241 F. Supp. .3d .1318, 1323-27 (S.D. Fla. 2017) (accord); Mason v. Fantasy, LLC, No. 13-cv-02020-RM-KLM, 2015 WL 4512327, at *11 (D. Colo. July 27, 2015) (accord); cf. Embry v. 4745 Second Abe., Ltd., No. 419-cv.-00305-JM-RAW, 2019 WL 8376264, at *2 (S.D. Iowa Nov.• 13, 2019) (denying club's motion to dis.miss because "the facts pleaded, accepted as true, are such that finder ;-.:f fact could reasonably infer that the plaintiff anci• the other- dancers were .employees,• rather than independent contractors). 13 Terry, 130 Nev. at 890, 336 P.3d at 959 (discussing control element of economic realities test). If anything, Cheetahs reserved (and seemingly exercised) a more extensive right to control' its dancers than the club in Por instance, as detailed at the outset, Cheetahs Posted rules Terry. apparently required that dancers demonstrate a "respectable" attitude, not just toward customers, but toward staff and fellow performers; make a set number of costume changes; wear a specific number of G-strings; eschew costumes made of certain materials; not approach customers at certain locations in the club; cover cuts with Band-Aids; remove personal item s from the refrigerator at the end of each shift; keep their belongings in lockers (secured with a "Cheetah[s] lock" to be purchased from Cheetahs); and keep cups off the dressing room floor. Indeed, the record supports that Cheetahs' expansive control began at a dancer's entry—where the club apparently required that she relinquish her car keys—and continued until her exit—where, after checking out with the Dj and floor manager, she seems to have needed to take and pass a breathalyzer test in order to have those keys returned. As to the second factor of the economic realities test, it appears that the Doe Dancers' respective opportunities for profit or loss were not. meaningfully tethered to their managerial skills. This is because, markedly similar to the club in Terry, Cheetahs has established "'a framework of false autonomy' that gives performers 'a coercive "choice between accruing debt to the club or redrawing personal boundaries of consent and bodily integrity."' 130 Nev. at 889, 336 P.3d at 959 (quoting Sheerine Alemzadeh, Baring Inequality: Revisiting the Legalization Debate Through the Lens of Strippers' Rights, 19 Mich. eT . Gender & L. 339, 347 (2013)). Like the club in Terry, Cheetahs set the prices for both the house fee and dances; required SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 14 031 1947A mgeto _ f.'• - ..:1• itZL:k ' the Doe Dancers to be in rotation for stage dances for a certain number of songs, unless they paid an off-stage fee; demanded a cut from any earned "funny money": and aggressively "encourage[d] the Doe Dancers to tip out other employees. And, if a Cheetahs dancer wished to leave before her sixhour shift expired—if, for example, it was an exceptionally slow night at the club—her house fee was higher. Accordingly, here. as in Terry, any boundaries the Doe Dancers set with a customer or the club—by, for instance, refusing to accept "funny money" or requesting permission to leave early—risked them ultimately "taking-a net loss." Terry, 130 Nev. at 890, 336 P.3d at 959. With regard to the third factor, the Doe Dancers' respective investments in "equipment or materiale were, as the performers' in Terry, seemingly limited to their appearances and costuming. Cheetahs, not the Doe Dancers, invested in the club's marketing. Cheetahs, not the Doe Dancers, financed club operations and repairs. Cheetahs, not the Doe Dancers, managed payroll. Cheetahs, not the Doe Dancers, obtained (and ran) the club's only credit card machine. Cheetahs, not the Doe Dancers, paid rent. Cheetahs, not the Doe Dancers, invested in the club's "ambiance, layout, [ancl] decor." And because the Doe Dancers invested nothing, save their physical exertion, maketip, and costumes, any rechiction in their earnings—due to their dancing on, say, a holiday like Father's Day (when club attendance is, apparently, light)—is therefore the loss of wages due an employee, "not of [the] in-vestment" of an independent contractor. Sec'y of Labor, U.S. Dep't of Labor v. Lauritzen, 835 F.2d 1529, 1536 (7th Cir: 1987. ) On the fourth factor of the economic realities test, "whether the service rendered requires a special skill," we tread carefully, having nO wish to disparage the Doe Dancers or minimize the physical abilities•that their SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 1,01 1947A 15 ,240:4 '• • -1."•••:::' work requires. However, their particular talents and endurance on their heel-clad feet "do not change the nature of th.eir employment relationship with [Cheetahs]." Id. at 1537. The question, as noted in Terry, is one of the presence and requirement of the sort of . specialized skill common to independent contractors; that is, "whether their work requires the initiative demonstrated by one in business for himself or herself." 130 Nev. at 891, 336 P.3d at 959. And witnesses testimony regarding the near absence of aity requirements for• 'perforniing at Cheetahsaside from, perhaps, a compliant "attitude"wodld seem to entiiely negate this. • • With regard tò the fifth factor, there appears little permanency in the relationship between the Doe Dancers and Cheetahs--the manager'S log book reflects the relatively frequent cessation of dancers' relationships with the club, sometimes without explanation—and the testimony of Ponterelli -and various Doe Dancers suggests that the "length and the regularit3T'' of the Doe Dancers' work was, at least to- some degree, of tb.eir oWn choosing. See Saleern v. Goip.- Tra nsp. Grp., Ltd., 854 F.3d 131, 147 (2d Cir. 20).7) (looking to the length and regularity of Certain Workers' relationship with a• business in ruling on this factor). But even work - of relatively short •durational periOda can qualify as employrrient rather than independent contracting. See Lauritzen, 835 F.2d at 1537-38 (holding that seasonal pickle-harvest pickers were employees not independent contractors). And, while schedule variability may, in soine cases, serve as an indicator of employment status, it is not dispOsitiVe. See Keller u. Mirj Microsystems' LLC; 781 F.3d 799, 808 (6th Cir. 201.5) (noting that "Workers have been, deemed employees where- the lack of Permanence is due• to operational characteristics- ;ntrinsic to the industry rather than to the workers' own business initiative" (internal quotations omitted)). SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 16 1,0) 1947A 441/fic• • -I.. ...................... kiim.47 • Instead, "the ultimate inquiry is the nature of t.he performers' dependence on the club." Terry, 130 Nev. at 891, 336 P.3d at 960. Accordingly, flexibility in scheduling is only of persuasive import where it affords the worker in question with entrepreneurial opportunities—"when an individual is able to draw income through work for others, he is less economically dependent on his putative employer." Saleem, 854 F.3d at 141. And here, particularly given Cheetah& witnesses testimony generally dismissing the qualifications of the Doe Dancers, we are simply not persuaded that their theoretical scheduling flexibility is in any real sense "the same as [the) true economic independence" that might exist in the case of an independent contractor. McLaughlin v. Seafood, Inc., 861 F.2d 450, 452-53 (5th Cir. 1988). The sixth and final factor—whether the Doe Dancers' work is "integral" to Cheetahs' business—requires little analysis. As Ponterelli acknowledged, a business such as Cheetahs "can't be a men's club without exotic dancers." Cornmon sense leads us to agree, and Cheetahs' briefing appears to concede the point. Accordingly, the weight of the economic realities test factors support that the Doe Dancers are employees, as opposed to independent contractors, thereunder. This leaves only the question of whether NRS 608.0155s definition of independent contractor operates to exclude- the Doe Dancers from these constitutional base-line protections by narrowing the scope of which workers the MWA would otherwise cover. Enacted in 2015, following Terry, NRS 608.0155 states in relevant part, [nor the purPoses of this chapter, a person is conclusively presumed to be an independent contractor if: SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 17 (01 1947A ,s4tO1c. (a) Unless the person is a foreign national who is legally present in the United States, the person possesses or has applied for an employer identification number or social security number or has filed an income tax return for a business or earnings from self-employment with the Internal Revenue Service in the previous year; (b) The person is required by the contract with the principal to hold any necessary state business license or local business license and to maintain any necessary occupational license, insurance or bonding in order to operate in this State; and (c) The person satisfies three or more of [certain additional criteria]." NRS 608.0155.3 The list of potential criteria includes 3 (1) Notwithstanding the exercise of any control necessary to comply with any statutory, regulatory or contractual obligations, the person has control and discretion over the means and manner of the performance of any work and the result of the work, rather than the means or manner by which the work is performed, is the primary element bargained for by the principal in the contract. (2) Except for an agreement with the principal relating te the completion schedule, range of work hours or, if the work contracted for is entertainment, the time such entertainment is to be presented, the person has control over the time the work is performed. (3) The person is not required to work exclusively for one principal unless: SUPREME Comm- oF NEVADA 10) I 947A 18 .44$09 "47; A Cheetahs argument that its interpretation of NRS 608.0155— that is, its reading tiv: statutory expansion of the class of independent contractors as applicable to the MWA's definition of employee—does not create any conflict therewith is puzzling. Admittedly, NRS 608.0155 is framed in terms of who is an "independent contractor," but it operates to distinguish "independent contractors" from "employees," which concepts are mutually exclusive. See, e.g., Landis, 51 Alit Fed. at 702 (collecting cases). Indeed, to • say that NRS• 608.0155 does nOt altei• the . MWA's definition of employee would likewise be to say that NRS 608.0155 does not affect which workers are employees under the MWA; or, put differently, that NRS 608.0155 does not exelude from the MWNs coverage any worker • .(1) A law, regulation or ordinance prohibits the person from providing services to more than one principal; or (11) The person has entered into a written contract to provide -.services to only one principal for a limited period. (4) The person is free to hire employees to assist with the work. (5) The person contributes a substantial investment of capital in the business of the person, including. without-limitation, the: . (I) Purchase or lease of ordinary tools, material and equipment regardless .of source; (II) Obtaining of a liCense or other permission from . the • nrificipal to access any work space of the principal to perform the work for which the.person was engaged; and (III) Lease of any work space from the principal required to perform the work for which the person was engaged.. 19 otherwise covered by the constitutional definition of employee. And this is plainly not Cheetahs position, all semantics aside. Thus, the following analysis assumes without deciding, that the Doe Dancers fall under this conclusive statutory presumption, which—if it does apply to MWA claims— would negate their constitutional minimum wage entitlement. Beginning with the text of the statute itself, see Banks v. Sunrise Hosp., 120 Nev. 822, 846, 102 P.3d 52, 68 (2004), and the statutory framework in which it falls, see Leven, v. Frey, 123 Nev. 399, 405, 168 P.3d 712, 716 (2007), there is merit in Doe Dancers' argument that NRS 60&0155 only purports to apply "for the purposes of [NRS Chapter 6081: that is, by its terms, the section appears to limit its reach to the statutory chapter in which it sits. Cheetahs, however, points to alternative language from Section 7 of the bill that. enacted NRS 608.0155 (S.B. 224), stating that the bill applies "to an action or proceeding to recover unpaid wages pursuant to [the AIWA] or NRS 608.250 to 608.290, inclusive." 2015 Nev. Stat., ch_ 325, § 7, at 1744 (emphasis added).4 Adding an additional. wrinkle, and perhaps supporting Cheetahs' position, the Legislature also implicitly referenced both NRS Chapter 608 and the MWA in NRS 608.255—stating- that independent contractors are not entitled to the minimum wage "[flor the purposes of this chapter and any other statutory or constitutional provision governing the minimum wage paid to an ernployee." However. these sections are possible to read harmoniously—as its language plainly •states, the definition of independent contractor in NRS 608.0155 (or SectiOn 1 of 4Though this language was adopted into our state's official laws but not codified in the NRS, it holds the same persuasive value. See Halverson v. See'y of State, 124 Nev. 484, 486-87, 186 P.3d 893, 895-96 (2008) (holding that "while not enacted [into the NRS], the [language in question] is law, as it was enacted in the official Statutes of Nevade). SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 20 KM 1947A aseglto S.B. 224) applies only to NRS Chapter 608 claims, while Section 5 of S.B. 224 and NRS 608.255 merely serve to reiaffirm that independent contractors are, generally, not eligible for minimum wages, whatever the source of authority supposedly justifying them. See Int'l Game Tech., Inc. u. Second Judicial Dist. Court, 179 P.3d 556, 560, 124 Nev. 193, 200-01 (2008) (noting that "a statute's provisions should be read as a whole . . and, when possible, any conflict is harmonized"). Moreover, even if these sections were truly irreconcilable, the general/specific canon—instructing that when two statutes conflict, "the more specific statute will take precedence, and is construed as an exception to the more general statute," Wi/lio,ms v. State, Dep't of Corr., 133 Nev. 594, 601, 402 P.3d 1260, 1265 (2017) (citation ornitted)—would counsel the same outcome. Indeed, the Legislature's reference to both NRS Chapter 608 and the MWA in NRS 608.255 and the introductory language of Section 5 of S.B. 224 supports this proffered reading. To wit, the Legislature plainly knew how to word laws to expressly reach claims brought under either NRS Chapter 608 or the MWA, and despite this, NRS 608.0155 states that it applies only "for the purposes of this chapter."5 We are therefore particularly loath to read-in the sort of express language contained in NRS 608.255 and Section 5 of S.B. 224 to NRS 608.0155--It is not [a courts] function or within [a court's] power to enlarge or improve or change the law." Elihu Root, The Importance of an Independent Judiciary, • 72 Independent 704, 704 (1912). A court has only the "right and the duty . . . to interpret the [legislative] documene not "to rewrite the words." Edward H. 5Further confirming this is the introductory language to Section 7 of S.B. 224, which likewise included specific references to both the MWA and NRS Chapter 608. 2015 Nev. Stat., ch. 325, § 5, at 1744. SUPREME COM OF NEVADA 21 10) 1947A clif&D • •„, -4;,•..."._•;14'1,57 .-. ,4..4 +inks Levi, The Nature of Judicial Reasoning, 32 U. Chi. L. Rev. 395, 404 (1965); Zenor v. State, Dep't. Gf 134 1\1,.:.:v. 109.111, 412 P.3d 28, 30 (2018) (reasoning that the Legislature's omission of language was intentional). Further supporting this reading is the principle that "when statutory language is susceptible of multiple interpretations, a court may shun an interpretation that raises serious constitutional doubts and instead may adopt an alternative that avoids those problems." Degraw U. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 134 Nev. 330, 333, 419 P.3d 136; 139 (2018) (inteilial quotations omitted.). integrally tied into the application of this canon here is that "constitutional supremacy prevents the Nevada Legislature from creating exceptions to the rights and privileges protected, by Nevada's Constitution." Thomas v. Neu. Yellow Cab Corp., 130 Nev. 484.: 489, 327 P.3d 518, 522 (2014).. Indeed, in • interpreting the MWA in Thomas u. Nevada Yellow Cab Corp., we have previously: reasoned that the Legislature -could change the Constitution by ordinary-enactment, no longer would the Constitution be superior paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary means. It would be on a level with ordinary legislative acts, and, like other acts . . alterable -when the legislature shall please to alter it.7. Id. at 489, 327 P.3d -at 522 (alteration in original) (internal quOtations ornitted). Thomas's reasoning is directly on point here—as we have indicated, the MWA provides broader minimuin wage coverage than that offered by NRS Chapter 608. See Thomds, 130-Nev. at 488, 327 P.3d 521. (noting that the MWA "expressly and: bro;Aly defines employee)-; Terry,- 130 Nev. at 884, 336 P.3d at 955 (noting that the MWA- reflects "voters wiSh that more, not fewer, persons Would receive minimum wage proteCtions"). And rather than, say, lobbying for legislative action, Nevada Voters took 'it upon themselves to propo6e and adopt an amendment to the "superior SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA (01 1047A calb. '22 paramount law" of this state, via lextralordinary means." • See Thomas, 130 Nev. at 489, 327 P.3d at 522 (internal quotations omitted); see also John Dinan, State constitutional Amendment Processes and -the Safeguards of American Federctlism, 115 Penn St. L: Rev. 1007, 1019 (2011) (noting that "where legislatures were not supportive [of increasing the minimum wage beyond the federal level], citizen-initiated statutes could be relied on to secure these policies, as occurred in several states," including Nevada). Given the MWA's supremacy, and the extraordinary measures the people of this state undertook to enact it, it only follows that NRS 608.0155 should be construed to accord with the MWA, not vice versa. Thomas, 130 Nev. at 489, 327 P.3d at 521-22. indeed, "[a]ccepting [Cheetahs] position 'would require the untenable ruling . . . that the constitution is presumed to be legal and will be upheld unless in conflict with the provisions of a statute."' Thomas, 130 Nev. at 489, 327 P.3d at 521-22 (quoting Strickland ti. Waymire, 126 Nev. 230, 241, 235 P.3d 605, 613 (201.0)). Such a holding would run afoul of fundamental democratic principles and the people's apparent attempt to "insulate minimum-wage increases from the possibility of future legislative reversal." Dinan, supra, at 1019. Additionally, accepting Cheetahs reading of NRS 608.0155 would raise potential separation of powers questions—it is "[a] wellestablished tenet of our legal system . . that the judiciary is endowed with the duty of constitutional interpretationH" not the Legislature. Nevadans ) for Nev. v. Beers, 122 Nev. 930, 943 n.20, 142 P.3d 339, 347 n:20 (2006. Simply put, it is not clear that the Legislature has the constitutional power to impose any particular interpretation of the term employee in the MWA upon this court by legislation—which, as discussed above, Cheetahs' reading of NRS 608.0155 would necessarily do. 23 .1... 74.z. ;41 ,V;I• tgalt,4 , ..u aa 4 Separate and apart from these principles, Cheetahs' understanding of the MWA "as allowing the Legislature to provide for additional exceptions to Nevada's constitutional minimum wage disregards the canon of construction 'expressio unius est exclusio diterius, the expression of one thing is the exclusion of another." Thomas, 130 Nev. at 488, 327 P.3d at 521 (quoting Galloway v. Truesdell, 83 Nev, 13, 26, 422 P.2d 237, 246 (1967)). As Thomas held, the MWA "expressly and broadly defines employee, exempting only certain groupe not at issue (those Under 18, employed by a "nonprofit organization for after school or summer ernployment or as a trainee" for 90 days or less). 130 Nev. at 488, 327 P.3d at 521. Accordingly, "the text necessarily implies that all employees not exempted by the Amendment . . . must be paid the minimum wage set out in the Amendment." Id. (emphasis added). Put differently, "the MWA's broad definition of employee and very specific exemptions necessarily and directly conflict with the [purported] legislative exception" Cheetahs proposes here. Id. All this said, in Thomas we relied in part on the doctrine of implied repeal—that later-ih-time legislation "is controlling over [a] statute that addresses the same issue." 130 Nev. at 489, 327 P.3d at 521 (internal quotations omitted). In theory, this principle could weigh against the Doe Dancers because NRS 608.0155 post-dates the MWA's enactment. But even crediting the doctrine in this context, the Legislature lacked the constitutional power to partially repeal the MWA's broad definition for the weighty reasons discussed above—the Legislature cannot by later-enacted statute abridge a right that the constitution guarantees. See id. at 489, 327 P.3d at 522. 24- Accordingly, NRS 608.0155 does not, and indeed could not, remove from MWA protections employer-employee relationships the constitutional provision protects. And because, as established above, the Doe Dancers are otherwise employees within the MWA's meaning, the district court erred by granting summary judgment in favor of Cheetahs and against the Doe Dancers on that point. We therefore reverse the district court's summary judgment and remand this matter to the district court for proceedings consistent with this opinion. We concur: Hardesty J. Pa rraguirre216-426 " Cadish J. Silver J. Herndon SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 25 (0) 1947A 410)11- • , . . -„ - 771../t.k.:;*;•:?_Y:i4t.'"' • STIGLICH, J., concurring: I agree that the MWA.incorporates the economic realities test, which "examines the totality of the circumstances and determines whether, as a matter of economic reality, workers depend upon the business to which they render service for the opportunity to work." See Terry v. Sapphire Gentlemen's Club, 130 Nev. 879, 886, 336 P.3d 951, 956 (2014) (emphasis omitted). Nevada's voters enacted the M WA so that "more, not fewer, persons would receive minimum wage protectione and used broad language to that effect which mirrors the language in the Fair Labor Standards Act. See id. at 884, 336 P.3d at 955. I also agree that the plaintiffs in this case satisfy the economic realities test and are therefore entitled to the protections of the MWA.' I write separately because I do not agree that "by its terms, NRS 608.0155] appears to limit its reach to the statutory chapter in which it sits." Majority opinion ante at 20. Although NRS 608.0155 applies only "for the purposes of this chapter," that means it applies for the purposes of NRS 608.255(2), which states that independent contractors are not subject to the provisions of the MWA. These two sections were enacted as part of a single, narrowly focused legislative scheme. 2015 Nev. Stat. ch. 325, at 'Although I agree with the majority that the plaintiffs are employees for MWA purposes, I do not necessarily find all of the same facts persuasive. For example, I do not think the requirements that dancers be "respectable," it cover cuts with Band-Aids," or "keep their belongings in lockers" are particularly strong indicia of the type of control that - evidences an employment relationship. - Majority opinion ante at 14. In my view, Cheetahs control over prices, the dancers' lack of meaningful entrepreneurial opportunity, and the fact that dancing is obviously "integral" to Cheetahs' business are better indicia of the relevant "economic realities." • 4,151 . , 1742-44. I agree that the principle of constitutional avoidance is an important aid when a legislative, enactment is "susceptible of multiple interpretations," Degraw v. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court, 134 Nev. 330, 333, 419 P.3d 136, 139 (2018), but do not find these provisions reasonably susceptible of multiple interpretations. l n my view, the Legislature unambiguously decided that workers who satisfy the criteria of NRS 608.0155 should not be entitled to the protections of the MWA. I am concerned that in its effort to avoid creating constitutional problems, the majority dist.orts the plain meaning of the Legislature's words. Nevertheless, I agree with the majority that "the Legislature cannot by later-enacted statute abridge a right that the constitution guarantees." Majority opinion ante at 24; Thomas v. Nev. Yellow Cab Corp., 130 Nev. 484, 489, 327 P.3d 518, 522 (2014) (explaining that "the Constitution [is] superior paramount law, unchangeable by ordinary rneans) (internal quotation marks omitted). Therefore, although I conclude the Legislature intended to limit the scope of the MWA, I wouid hold that it •lacked the power to do so. Because I would reach the same result, albeit by a slightly different path, I concur. .41,Lty:mog J. Stiglich SUPREME COURT OF NEVADA 2 (13.1 1947A .1141D111, • _ z i .c.-i a . 1? Vit 1+ 44. •t i -zte • -
Primary Holding
The Supreme Court reversed the district court's order granting summary judgment against Plaintiffs, who argued that they were employees of Defendant within the context of the Minimum Wage Amendment, holding that summary judgment was improper.

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