California Labor &
Employment Law Blog

Aug. 3 2011

Attorneys’ Fees Properly Awarded to Prevailing Employer in Wage Case

Topics: Court Decisions, Wage & Hour Issues

In Kirby v. Immoos Fire, a California court held that attorneys' fees were properly awarded to an employer who prevailed in a putative class action alleging missed rest breaks. The court relied on the bilateral fee-shifting provision of Labor Code section 218.5, which provides that the prevailing party in an action alleging violations of certain provisions of the Labor Code is entitled to recover its attorneys' fees. Section 218.5's fee-shifting provision excludes actions alleging claims for unpaid minimum wages or overtime wages covered by Labor Code section 1194 (which has a unilateral fee shifting provision allowing only a prevailing plaintiff to recover attorneys' fees). In this case, the plaintiff alleged (among other things) a claim for unpaid overtime wages, as well as a claim for missed rest periods. The court held that the employer could not recover its fees incurred in defending the overtime claim, but could recover its fees incurred in defending the rest period claim.
This case presents a positive development for employers by providing precedent for an award of attorneys' fees in actions alleging meal and rest period violations should the employer prevail.

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For over 20 years, CDF has distinguished itself as one of the top employment, labor and immigration firms in California, representing employers in single-plaintiff and class action lawsuits and advising employers on related legal compliance and risk avoidance. We cover the state, with five locations from Sacramento to San Diego.

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About the Editor

Robin Largent has a regular presence in California state and federal courts and has been lead defense counsel and appellate counsel for large and small California employers in litigation (and arbitration) ranging from individual discrimination and harassment claims to complex wage and hour representative and class actions. She also leads the firm’s appellate practice, having substantial experience and success handling appeals, writ petitions, and amicus briefs in both state and federal court on issues such as class certification (particularly in the wage and hour arena), manageability and due process concerns associated with class action trials, exempt/non-exempt misclassification issues, meal and rest break compliance, trade secret/unfair competition matters, and the scope of federal court jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act.
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