Associated Press

Carson City — A committee formed to protect Nevada’s jobs has filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a petition aimed at raising the minimum wage and imposing outrageous penalties on Nevada employers, including small businesses.

The Committee to Preserve Nevada Jobs is made up of three Nevada chambers of commerce: the Las Vegas Latin Chamber, the Las Vegas Metro Chamber and the Chamber of Reno, Sparks and Northern Nevada.

At face value, the Nevada Minimum Wage Increase Initiative, filed by the Committee to Raise the Minimum Wage in Nevada, appears to be altruistic. However, this ill-conceived measure goes far beyond changing the minimum wage and will impose new regulations and stiff penalties intended to harm employers – even those who have minor, unintentional violations.

“The Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce is a vocal advocate for Hispanics and small businesses,” Latin Chamber President & CEO Otto Merida said. “This dangerous petition does not just seek to increase the minimum wage. If passed, it would also impose mandatory damages of three times actual damages, plus it would require even the smallest businesses to pay plaintiff attorney fees. It would cripple small businesses for even the smallest infraction.”

If passed, the Nevada Minimum Wage Increase Initiative would:

Create a system that severely punishes all employers by mandating three times the actual damages, even for unintentional violations;

Provide a constitutional right for class action lawsuits;

Require even the smallest employers to pay plaintiffs’ attorneys fees; and

Substantially reduce the time employers have to implement any changes in the minimum wage

“This is a job-killing proposal, pure and simple.  Nevada’s employers cannot weather the effects of this punitive initiative,” said Kristin McMillan, president and CEO of the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce. “Nevada is still recovering from the great recession. While our unemployment rate has steadily ticked downward, we are still higher than the national rate of 5 percent. This initiative would change Nevada’s business climate and send the wrong message to employers who want to hire workers and create jobs.”

“This proposal is not only a tremendous burden for small business job creators, but it’s also detrimental to the people they employ,” said CEO of the Chamber of Reno Sparks and Northern Nevada Len Stevens.