In general, each party to a lawsuit pays its own attorneys’ fees. In limited instances, a judge may order the losing side to pay the winner’s legal fees and costs. If you file a lawsuit against your employer in the state of California, here are five statutes which you could use to recover your legal costs if you win.
Labor Code Section 1194
The California Labor Code (CLC) allows workers who are paid less than minimum wage to file a lawsuit against their employer. In Labor Code Section 1194, the Code states that any employee who receives less than minimum wage is entitled to recover the full amount of missed compensation plus interest, as well as reasonable attorneys’ fees and legal costs.
Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) Claims
The Private Attorney Genera Act (PAGA) is a section of the CLC that allows private citizens to pursue fines against an employer for labor violations on behalf of the State of California. In essence, a PAGA claim allows an employee to act on behalf of the government for violations of the state’s labor code, for health and safety violations, and for other serious wage and hour violations. If a person brings a PAGA claim, he or she will be required to turn over 75% of any fines awarded to the government. However, this act also allows the person to seek compensation for his or her attorneys’ fees. Additionally, the California Code of Civil Procedure also allows PAGA claimants to seek attorneys’ fees and costs from their employers.
Labor Code Section 2802
In California, Section 2802 of the Labor Code states that employers are required to reimburse employees for all work-related expenses incurred during the course of their employment. In Section 2802(c), the statute defines these expenditures to include all reasonable costs, including attorneys’ fees. This means that if an employee files a lawsuit to protect his or her rights at work, the employer may be liable for the costs of the suit.
Labor Code Section 98.2
Under CLC Section 98.2, an employer has the right to appeal a negative decision from the Labor Commissioner within 10 days. However, if the employer is unsuccessful, the employer can be ordered to pay the attorneys’ fees and costs of the other parties in the case. Additionally, if the employee receives any amount of money greater than $0, the employer can be responsible for his or her attorneys’ fees. This means that employers who successfully appeal and reduce the amount of money they owe can still be liable for their employee’s attorneys’ fees.
Government Code Section 12965
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits harassment and discrimination by employers on the basis of certain protected classes (sex, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) as well as retaliation against employees who protest such discrimination. Employees can sue their employer for violating the anti-discriminatory provisions of the FEHA.
In such cases, the court has discretion to award attorney’s fees to the prevailing party pursuant to Government Code Section 12965(b). If the employee is successful, and proves that the employer committed harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, then that employer can be ordered to pay attorneys’ fees.
If you are considering filing a lawsuit against your employer, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney about your options. Contact Labor Law Office, APC today and learn more about your legal rights by speaking with a professional Labor Law Attorney in Sacramento.
Sacramento, CA 95821