Out with the Old & In with the New
The 2023 Nevada Legislative Session has shuffled in some significant changes to Nevada law and there may be some additional laws signed into law by the Governor in the upcoming weeks. As some of you may know, the Nevada Legislature meets every two years for 120 days. During that short period, legislators frantically worked together to push through their proposed legislation for the next two years. As of June 9, 2023, the Governor has signed 227 bills and currently has an additional 119 bills awaiting his approval (or veto). Also as of June 9, 2023, the Governor has vetoed 32 bills, including a bill relating to prevailing wage determinations by the Nevada Labor Commissioner and an abatement of taxes for businesses with more than 50 employees that offer paid family leave to employees.
Business Law Updates
AB 126 Makes Sweeping Changes to Nevada Corporate Law
Under AB 126, business entities may correct records filed with the Secretary of State by preparing a certificate of correction, specifying the correction, and paying an appropriate fee. Stockholders seeking inspection of corporate records are now required to submit an affidavit with a written demand for inspection of the records stating that the stockholder has not sold or offered to sell the list of stockholders. A corporation’s board of directors may now require a stockholder demanding to inspect corporate records to sign a confidentiality agreement before the corporation allows the stockholder to inspect records.
AB 126 also expanded the power of the board of directors to take actions that protect the “long-term or short-term interests” of the corporation or its stockholders, including adopting plans or instruments to issue stock options, and amend the articles of incorporation to change the name of the corporation (unless the corporation is precluded from making such a change without stockholder approval). The new law allows publicly traded companies to decrease the number of issued and outstanding shares of a class or series if approved by the stockholders of the affected shares. Corporations are also no longer required to send annual statements regarding uncertified shares to the stockholders of record and instead are required to send a confirming statement within 10 days after receiving a written request from a stockholder of such shares.
The new law contains several additional changes to Nevada corporate law and went into effect on May 30, 2023.
SB 441 Repeals Most of SB 4 But Leaves the Door Open for Some COVID-19 Injury Claims
SB 441 repealed most of the provisions of SB 4, a Senate Bill enacted in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic that imposed heightened cleaning standards, social distancing standards, COVID-19 testing protocol for employees, paid leave for employees awaiting test results, paid time off for employees that tested positive for COVID-19, and other requirements upon hotels, casinos, resorts, motels, hostels, bed and breakfasts, and other areas of public accommodation. SB 4 was set to expire on July 1, 2023, or the date that the Governor terminated the Declaration of Emergency for COVID-19.
Although SB 441 repeals the vast majority of SB 4’s provisions, it expressly excludes repeal of any causes of action arising under NRS 41.810, et seq. for injuries or death due to exposure to COVID-19 that occurred before the effective date of the law on May 17, 2023. However, going forward, NRS 41.810, et seq. will not apply to any potential claim arising from an injury or death after May 17, 2023, which will limit public accommodations’ potential exposure to liability under those statutes.
Employment Law Updates
AB 163 Provides Leave for Sexual Assault Victims
In 2017, the Nevada Legislature enacted NRS 608.0198 and NRS 613.222, which entitle employees that are victims of domestic violence to protected leave and reasonable accommodations that do not impose an undue hardship upon the employer. AB 163 expands upon NRS 608.0198 and now allows victims of sexual assault or their family members to take up to 160 hours of leave under certain circumstances. The new law also allows sexual assault victims or their family members to seek reasonable accommodations relating to the sexual assault, including a transfer or reassignment, modified schedule, new phone number, etc. The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2024, for employers, but went into effect on June 5, 2023, to adopt regulations and perform administrative tasks necessary to effectuate the new law.
SB 147 Requires Employer to Provide Immediate Payment of Wages to Laid-Off Employees
Under Nevada law, earned and unpaid wages must be paid immediately when an employee is terminated from employment. SB 147 now requires employers that place employees on a temporary “nonworking status”—meaning a temporary layoff by the employer—to immediately pay an employee’s wages. The new law does not apply to employees that have been placed on suspension pending an investigation relating to employment, suspension arising from a disciplinary action relating to employment, placed in an “on-call” arrangement for available work, or when the employee has been approved to take a leave of absence. Employers that fail to pay the wages to laid-off employees within 3 days may incur a penalty for the unpaid wages. The penalty allows “nonworking status” employees to receive their regular wages for each day the employer fails to pay the wages, not exceeding 30 days. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2023.
Healthcare Law Updates
AB 267 requires medical facilities to conduct employee training regarding cultural competency for employees or agents of the medical facility that provide clinical, administrative, or support services that have “direct patient contact at least once each week” and the supervisors that oversee such employees or agents. The bill requires the State Board of Health to adopt regulations regarding the frequency of such training shall be necessary. The bill also requires the Office of Minority Health and Equity of the Department of Health and Human Services to establish and maintain a list of courses and programs approved for cultural competency training, which will be available on the department’s website.
AB 267 also makes sweeping changes to the licensing requirements for nurses, psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical professional counselors, social workers, and behavioral analysts. Nurses will be required to complete at least 4 hours of cultural competency and diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) training every other year to renew their license with the State Board of Health. Psychologists, marriage and family therapists, clinical professional counselors or social workers, and behavioral analysts will be required to complete at least 6 hours of cultural competency and DEI training biennially. Alcohol and drug counselors and problem gambling counselors will be required to complete at least 3 hours of training each year. AB 267 goes into effect on January 1, 2024.
Additional Changes to Nevada Law
AB 76 increases the fees that a prevailing party may seek for expert witnesses under NRS 18.005 from $1,500 to $15,000. Litigants were limited to recovering $1,500 per expert for decades unless the court allowed a larger fee. The $1,500 previously allowed for an expert rarely covered the cost of a deposition, and litigants in Nevada have frequently declined to retain experts based on the meager recovery for their costs. AB 76’s increase in recoverable costs associated with retaining experts will allow prevailing parties an opportunity to recover a larger portion of their costs for experts. The bill goes into effect on July 1, 2023.
AB 414 establishes a new advanced healthcare directive form that may be used to create an individual’s advanced healthcare directive. The form must be witnessed by two adults, neither of whom may be the owner, operator, or employee of a nursing home if the individual resides at the nursing home. The law goes into effect on January 1, 2024.
SB 401 makes changes to Nevada’s punitive damages law. NRS 42.010 previously allowed litigants to recover punitive damages if the defendant caused an injury by operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol and “knowing that the defendant would thereafter operate the motor vehicle.” The new law no longer requires litigants to demonstrate that the defendant knew that a motor vehicle would be operated and allows punitive damages for injuries that occur as a result of a defendant’s willful consumption of alcohol that caused the plaintiff’s injuries. The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2023.