California Employers Face Huge Attorney Fee Awards in Wage Nonpayment Claims, Says Hackard Law

Aug 22, 2013, 15:21 ET from Hackard Law

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Hackard Law attorneys regularly represent and defend California employers in employment litigation in state and federal courts and before administrative agencies. Nonpayment of wage and benefits claims present employers with a challenge. The Labor Code clearly provides that a court must award reasonable attorney's fees and costs to the prevailing party if such attorney's fees and costs are requested upon the initiation of the action. A protracted defense can easily backfire if a judgment, even if relatively minimal, is awarded. This is an area of law where a non-prevailing party can win the battle, only to lose the war.


California employers are unaware that a prevailing employee in nonpayment of wage and benefits litigation might also recover an attorney's fee award that could be equal to or greater than the wages award. While a court should award reasonable attorney's fees, many losing parties have found that there is wide judicial latitude in determining reasonableness.

Meriam E. Hansen, a Hackard Law attorney with strong experience in employment litigation, points to a recent study from the National Association of Legal Fee Analysis to identify some prime factors:

"Courts do have specific standards to gauge reasonableness. These include prevailing hourly rates, the fairness of billing hours, successful results, and reputation. You should also take into account the quality of the lawyer's representation, litigation risks involved and the efficiency of staff and task allocation in relation to billing. Then, of course, there's the judgment itself and fees in relation to the size of the settlement."

Scholarship confirms what attorneys know in practice: The size of a fee award can vary dramatically from court to court and matter to matter.  Parties to employment litigation who forget this do so at great risk.

About Hackard Law, a Professional Law Corporation

Based in Northern California, Hackard Law focuses on transactional and litigation matters. Michael A. Hackard is the principal attorney of Hackard Law. Meriam E. Hansen is a member of Hackard Law and has extensive experience in defending employers in state and federal courts. Her practice includes defense of employers before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, California Fair Employment and Housing Commission, Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, and Workers' Compensation Appeals Board. For information about Hackard Law, please visit:


Hackard Law

10630 Mather Blvd.
Mather, Sacramento County, CA 95655
(916) 313-3030

SOURCE Hackard Law