Nevada is the only state in the Union that has legalized prostitution – albeit with certain restrictions. Of the 17 counties in the state, prostitution is legal in 10 of them. The law has tight regulations for this line of work and that includes providing certain rights to the sex workers.

While the penalties for illegal prostitution in Nevada are well documented, there isn’t much information on the rights of sex workers in the state.

What are the Prostitution Laws in Nevada and How do They Protect Sex Workers?

While the licensing requirements for brothels in Nevada vary by county, there are several state laws that govern the overall prostitution business.

  • Nevada Law NRS 201.354
  • NAC 441A.777 – “Sex worker” defined.
  • NAC 441A.800 – Testing of sex workers; prohibition of certain persons from employment as a sex worker.
  • NAC 441A.802 – Screening and confirmatory test for human immunodeficiency virus by a medical laboratory: Requirements.
  • NAC 441A.805 – Use of latex or polyurethane prophylactic required.
  • NAC 441A.810 – House of prostitution required to post health notice.
  • NAC 441A.815 Person in charge of house of prostitution: Report of presence of communicable disease required; cooperation with health authority required.

Prostitutes must also register with the county where they will be working and they are required to carry a work card that is also issued by that county. Some of the specific requirements may be a little different from county to county, but the required documentation is statewide.

Are Prostitutes Employees or Independent Contractors?

Sex workers in Nevada are independent contractors, but there is some controversy surrounding that classification. While technically prostitutes do meet the Nevada criteria for independent contractors, they also have some restrictions and requirements that don’t exactly fit the category.

Independent contractors must fit into one of three categories. The first two are pretty straightforward:

  1. The worker must have a Social Security number or a federal employer tax identification number, or they must have filed a federal income tax return for earnings from the previous year for self-employment or for a business.
  2. The worker is under a contract that requires they hold a local or state business license as well as maintain any necessary bonding, insurance, or occupational license for the contract’s term.

Of these criteria that must be met for the third category for a person to qualify as an independent contractor in Nevada, the worker must meet at least three:

  • They maintain discretion and control over the manner and means of how they perform their work
  • They maintain control over when the work is performed unless they have a contract that has specific time stipulations
  • They are not limited to working for just one employer unless their (limited term) contract states otherwise or the law prohibits it
  • They may hire employees to help them complete the work
  • They have invested in their own business by leasing or purchasing equipment, securing a workspace, obtaining any required licenses, etc.

Many counties have ordinances that restrict the amount of time a prostitute can leave or be away from the brothel. This is due to the required health testing for prostitutes. Under these ordinances, if they are away from the brothel for longer than the allowed time, they must undergo health testing in order to be able to work.

What Rights do Sex Workers have as Independent Contractors in Nevada?

There is some ongoing controversy that sex workers in many Nevada brothels should be classified as employees. However, that train is moving slowly and as it stands for now, prostitutes do not have the same rights in the workplace that employees do because they are classified as independent contractors.

Still, under Nevada law, sex workers do have a right to a safe and healthy workplace. This is enforced by the implementation of several laws regarding health testing and notification. These workers also have the right to being paid the agreed upon wage at the agreed upon time per their contract.

Finally, sex workers have the right to practice their profession provided they stay within the confines of the law which means working in a brothel, getting weekly health testing, and other requirements. As long as they are compliant with state and local laws, they are free to practice their chosen profession.




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