Workers Who Sue for Unpaid Wages in California and Attorney’s Fees

California law provides many different ways for workers to recover attorney’s fees in wage and hour claims.  Some of these avenues include prevailing on a claim for failure to pay the minimum wage (see Labor Code section 1194), prevailing on a claim for unreimbursed business expenses (see Labor Code 2802), and prevailing under California’s Equal […]

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“I want to sue my California employer for harassment and discrimination? But what happens if I lose my case?”

One important question that people often ask (and should ask) when thinking about suing their employer is, “What happens if I lose?  Do I have to pay the defendant any money?”Gear-and-Gavel_dark-blue

In answering this question, it is critical to understand the difference between attorneys’ fees and costs.  “Attorneys’ fees,” as the name indicates, are the actual fees that a defendant has paid to its attorneys to represent it in a lawsuit.  “Costs” refers to the various expenditures that are made during the course of litigation, and can include things such as filing fees and court reporter fees.

In Williams v. Chino Valley Independent Fire District S213100 (May 4, 2015) the California Supreme Court recently clarified the circumstances in which a plaintiff who files a case under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and loses must pay the defendant’s case costs.  The FEHA governs claims under California law for discrimination, harassment, and retaliation for complaining about discrimination and harassment, among other things.  The Williams opinion will therefore impact all cases involving such claims. Continue reading ““I want to sue my California employer for harassment and discrimination? But what happens if I lose my case?””

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