California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Attorney’s Fees

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Malicious Prosecution Action Against Former Employer’s Law Firm Was Properly Dismissed

Parrish v. Latham & Watkins LLP, 3 Cal. 5th 767 (2017) In a prior litigation, FLIR Systems, Inc. and Indigo Systems Corp. (collectively, “FLIR”) brought suit against their former employees, William Parrish and E. Timothy Fitzgibbons (the “Former Employees”), for, among other things, misappropriation of trade secrets. The Former Employees defeated those claims and then … Continue Reading

Employer Can Recover $90,000 In Costs From Employee Who Rejected Multiple Settlement Offers

Sviridov v. City of San Diego, 2017 WL 3493855 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017) Aleksei Sviridov, a former police officer for the City of San Diego, was terminated from his job in 2007, reinstated in 2008 and then failed to return to work thereafter, which resulted in a second termination. Following years of litigation and three … Continue Reading

It’s Time to Think About Arbitration Agreements Again Following Recent $15 Million+ Employee Verdicts

Jury panels in the Los Angeles Superior Court (which is often referred to as “The Bank” by the plaintiffs’ bar) have recently delivered multimillion-dollar verdicts to former-employee plaintiffs.  Many employers doing business in California already have insulated themselves from such disasters by adopting comprehensive arbitration regimes, which would require that such cases be heard by a retired … Continue Reading

Employee Is Not Entitled To Attorney’s Fees For Breach Of Contract Claim

Shames v. Utility Consumers’ Action Network, 2017 WL 2807920 (Cal. Ct. App. 2017) Michael Shames filed this lawsuit against the Utility Consumers’ Action Network (“UCAN”), alleging various causes of action stemming from the termination of his employment. Although his amended complaint alleged UCAN’s breach of contract for its failure to pay him multiple bonus payments, … Continue Reading

Employee Was Properly Awarded $31,000 In Attorney’s Fees On $300 Unpaid Wage Claim

Beck v. Stratton, 9 Cal. App. 5th 483 (2017) Anthony Stratton filed a claim against Thomas Beck with the labor commissioner for unpaid wages in the amount of $303.55. After conducting an administrative hearing, the labor commissioner awarded Stratton $303.50 plus an additional $5,757.46 in liquidated damages, interest and statutory penalties for a total award … Continue Reading

San Jose Passes “Opportunity to Work” Ordinance

San Jose is the third northern California city to enact a scheduling ordinance that further regulates employers’ scheduling and hiring practices.  Following on San Francisco and Emeryville’s lead, San Jose recently passed “The Opportunity to Work Ordinance” (Ordinance No. 2016.1, codified at Chapter 4.101 of the San Jose Municipal Code), which went into effect on February 6, 2017. … Continue Reading

FAQ About California’s New Law on Venue and Choice of Law in Employment Agreements

We recently blogged about Governor Brown signing S.B. 1241, which is now codified as Section 925 of the California Labor Code. The law, which affects venue and choice of law provisions in agreements entered into as a condition of employment, will begin applying to agreements entered into, modified, or extended beginning on January 1, 2017. … Continue Reading

California Protects Employees’ Rights to Have Their Claims Heard in the State, Under California Law

In recent years, some employers doing business in the Golden State have required their employees to sign arbitration and employment agreements that require the employee to sue or arbitrate in – or under the law of – another state.  After January 1, 2017, this practice will be illegal unless the employee was represented by legal … Continue Reading

$6.3 Million Attorney’s Fees Award (1/3 Of Total Recovery) Was Reasonable In Class Action Settlement

Laffitte v. Robert Half Int’l Inc., 1 Cal. 5th 480 (2016) An objecting class member in a wage and hour lawsuit challenged the trial court’s award of an attorney’s fee calculated as a percentage (one-third) of the overall settlement amount of $19 million. The objector asserted that pursuant to Serrano v. Priest, 20 Cal. 3d … Continue Reading

Former Employee’s Manager Is Not Entitled To Prevailing-Party Attorney’s Fees

Ramos v. Garcia, 2016 WL 3537366 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016) Rogelio Ramos sued his former employers for unpaid overtime, minimum wages and other compensation and obtained some of the monetary recovery he requested. Ramos also sued Manuel Garcia (Ramos’s former manager) under the same theories and lost on the ground that Garcia was a co-employee … Continue Reading

Employer Is Entitled To Recover $4 Million In Attorney’s Fees From EEOC

CRST Van Expedited, Inc. v. EEOC, 578 U.S. ___, 136 S. Ct. 1642 (2016) The EEOC filed suit against CRST (a trucking company) alleging that over 250 female employees and prospective employees had been subjected to sexual harassment. However, the district court dismissed all of the claims on various grounds, including that the EEOC had … Continue Reading

Employee Could Proceed With Misclassification Claim, Though Wrongful Termination Claim Was Properly Rejected

Davis v. Farmers Ins. Exch., 245 Cal. App. 4th 1302 (2016) William A. Davis brought suit against Farmers, claiming he had been wrongfully classified as an independent contractor rather than an employee and asserting that he had been wrongfully terminated on the basis of his age. The trial court directed a verdict in Farmers’s favor … Continue Reading

Employee Who Dismissed Claims Upon Receipt Of Settlement Can Recover Costs As Prevailing Party

DeSaulles v. Community Hosp. of the Monterey Peninsula, 62 Cal. 4th 1140 (2016) Maureen deSaulles agreed to dismiss her causes of action for breach of contract and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing in exchange for a settlement payment from her former employer in the amount of $23,000. The trial … Continue Reading

Employer Was Entitled To Obtain Reimbursement Of Short-Term Employee’s Training Costs

USS-POSCO Indus. v. Case, 197 Cal. Rptr. 3d 791 (Cal. Ct. App. 2016) Floyd Case voluntarily enrolled in a three-year, employer-sponsored educational program. Case agreed in writing that if he quit his job within 30 months of completing the program, he would reimburse his employer (UPI) a prorated portion of the program costs. Two months … Continue Reading

Employer And Employee Were Each Prevailing Parties On Different Claims

Sharif v. Mehusa, Inc., 2015 WL 5969679 (Cal. Ct. App. 2015) Mahta Sharif sued her former employer (Mehusa) for unpaid overtime, unpaid wages and violation of California’s Equal Pay Act (“EPA”). While Sharif prevailed on her EPA claim, Mehusa prevailed on the overtime and wage claims. Sharif sought reimbursement of her attorney’s fees pursuant to … Continue Reading

Court Properly Enjoined Plaintiffs’ Lawyers From Distributing $5 Million In Fees To Themselves

Lofton v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, 2014 WL 5358364 (Cal. Ct. App. 2014) The Initiative Law Group (“ILG”) represented more than 600 plaintiffs in a class action filed in Los Angeles against Wells Fargo that was initially certified and then was later decertified. After decertification, ILG continued to represent the plaintiffs in their individual lawsuits … Continue Reading

March 2014 California Employment Law Notes

$150,000 Sexual Harassment Verdict And $680,000 Fee Award Affirmed Taylor v. Nabors Drilling USA, LP, 222 Cal. App. 4th 1228 (2014) Max Taylor worked as a floorhand on an oil rig where he alleged he was harassed by his supervisors who called him “queer,” “fagot [sic],” “homo,” and “gay porn star” and was subjected to … Continue Reading

New IRS Guidance On Tax Treatment Of Attorney’s Fees

The IRS recently released a memorandum advising taxpayers on the proper tax characterization of attorney’s fee payments in connection with a settlement of or judgment in an employment dispute. Courts have long held that payments to plaintiffs for their attorney’s fees pursuant to a fee shifting statute belong to the plaintiff, not the attorney.  Thus, … Continue Reading

California Further Restricts Employer Recovery of Prevailing Party Attorney’s Fees

California has amended Labor Code § 218.5 to limit the circumstances under which an employer may recover its attorney’s fees and costs as the prevailing party in a lawsuit in which an employee has sued for nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions (SB 462).  Prior to enactment of Senate Bill 462, the prevailing … Continue Reading

Employee Was Not Entitled To Indemnity For Fees Incurred In Defending Against Employer’s Lawsuit

Nicholas Labs., LLC v. Chen, 199 Cal. App. 4th 1240 (2011) Nicholas Labs sued its former employee, Christopher Chen, for breach of contract, conversion, negligence, money had and received, unjust enrichment, etc., after discovering that, while employed by Nicholas Labs, Chen had engaged in a business that made him a competitor of Nicholas Labs and … Continue Reading
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