Attorneys’ Fees in Individual Wage and Hour Cases

California Labor Code section 1194 provides that an employee who is paid less than the legally-required minimum wage or  overtime compensation who prevails in a civil action canicon-wage recover their reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of suit. This provision is important, because many individual wage and hour claims are small, and, absent the possibility of recovering attorneys’ fees, many private attorneys will not take them.

In Gramajo v. Joe’s Pizza on Sunset, Inc., B322697 (March 25, 2024) the court considered whether a trial judge could award no attorney’s fees or costs to a plaintiff who had won $7,659.63 after a seven-day jury trial. The trial judge in that case had done so after finding that the plaintiff”s attorney had severely over litigated the case, which should have been brought in a court of limited jurisdiction because it was worth less than $25,000.

The court of appeal found that even given these facts the trial judge was required to award reasonable fees and costs. However, the court noted that “trial courts must always be guided by what is reasonable and exercise their discretion to strike costs or reduce fees they find unreasonable.”

If you have an individual claim for unpaid wages, please feel free to contact the attorneys at Hunter Pyle Law. We can be reached at (510) 444-4400, or at