Labor Code section 218.5

Training new employees is expensive.  That is particularly true when an employer offers to pay for an employee’s educational training.  The benefits of doing so include a more educated and well-trained workforce, as well as increased morale and employee loyalty.  The risk, of course, is that an employee may decide to take his or her

On October 14, 2015, the California Second District Court of Appeal held in Sharif v. Mehusa, Inc.  that both the employee and the employer can be deemed “prevailing party” for purposes of recovering attorneys’ fees under the Labor Code.  Plaintiff, Mahta Sharif, brought an action against her former employer, Mehusa, Inc., for unpaid overtime (Lab. Code, § 1194), unpaid wages (Lab. Code, § 201), and violation of California’s Equal Pay Act (Lab. Code, § 1197.5).  She prevailed on her Equal Pay Act claim with the jury awarding her $26,300. Mehusa prevailed on Plaintiff’s overtime and wage claims.  Plaintiff filed a cost memorandum and was awarded her costs. She also filed a motion for attorney fees in the amount of $280,432 under Labor Code section 1197.5(g) as the prevailing party on her Equal Pay Act claim. Plaintiff’s attorney fees request consisted of a lodestar amount of $140,216 and a multiplier of two.  Mehusa filed a motion for attorney fees and costs under Labor Code section 218.5 in the amount of $36,982.24 as the prevailing party on Plaintiff’s wage claims.  Mehusa estimated that 75% of defense counsel’s time was spent defending against Plaintiff’s unsuccessful wage claims.
Continue Reading There Can Be Two “Prevailing Parties” in a Single Wage & Hour and Equal Pay Act Lawsuit

By: Lizbeth V. West, Esq.

Governor Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 462 which places restrictions on an employer’s ability to recoup attorney’s fees when it prevails in an unpaid wage or benefit claim.

Labor Code section 218.5 previously provided that except in certain circumstances, in an action brought for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions, a court was to award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the prevailing party if any party to the action requests attorney’s fees and costs upon the initiation of the action. SB 462 amends section 218.5 to provide that where the prevailing party is the employer, attorney’s fees and costs can only be awarded if the court finds the employee brought the wage and hour action in bad faith.


Continue Reading Amendment to the Labor Code Makes it Harder for Employers to Get Attorney’s Fees if They Prevail in an Unpaid Wage or Benefit Claim