California Employment Law Update

Category Archives: Attorney’s Fees

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November 2023 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2023 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Company That Hired Competitor’s Employee Was Not Entitled To Arbitrate Claims Disability Discrimination Claim Was Properly Dismissed On Summary Judgment Employee’s Attorney’s “Pervasive Incivility” Justified … Continue Reading

Lawyer-Investigators Recover Attorneys’ Fees Following Successful Anti-SLAPP Motion

Ross v. Seyfarth Shaw LLP, 96 Cal. App. 5th 722 (2023) Plaintiff Natalie Operstein was a professor of linguistics at California State University, Fullerton, and plaintiff Craig Ross is her husband. In 2014, the university hired a law firm to investigate multiple accusations Operstein raised to her superiors about three of Operstein’s colleagues. Defendant Colleen Regan, … Continue Reading

Employee’s Attorney’s “Pervasive Incivility” Justified $460,000 Reduction In Fees

Snoeck v. ExakTime Innovations, Inc., 2023 WL 7014096 (Cal. Ct. App. 2023) Steve Snoeck prevailed at trial on one of his six claims against his former employer, ExakTime Innovations, and was awarded $1.14 million in attorney’s fees – an amount that the trial court reduced by a “0.4 negative multiplier” to account for Snoeck’s attorney’s … Continue Reading

In a Surprise Move, California Enacts Boatload of New Pro-Employer Laws – Nah, Just Kidding, It’s Going to be More Burdensome than Ever!

In what has become an annual tradition, California – that fabled workers’ paradise on earth – has enacted a slew of new laws that, come January, may keep even the most hearty HR professionals up at night. As we reported earlier this year (here), the California Chamber of Commerce initially identified 11 “Job Killer Bills” … Continue Reading

PAGA Debt Not Dischargeable in Bankruptcy

In re Patacsil, 2023 WL 3964908 (Bankr. E.D. Cal. June 9, 2023) The Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) permits aggrieved employees to file representative action to recover civil penalties for Labor Code violations.  The law allocates 75% of any recovery to the Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) for “enforcement of labor laws” and “education … Continue Reading

Los Angeles Court Orders Employer To Pay Whistleblower $2.3 Million In Attorney’s Fees On Top Of $24 Million Judgment

A California judge has ordered Farmers Insurance to pay almost $2.3 million in attorney’s fees to the lawyers of a successful whistleblower/former in-house attorney who claimed his role as a potential witness in a sex bias class action got him fired. The underlying judgment in favor of the whistleblower was $24.36 million – after the … Continue Reading

Spring Showers Bring Job Killer Bills to California

Pablo Neruda once said “you can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”  Likewise, California businesses’ protests against oppressive employment legislation don’t seem to stem the tide of the Legislature’s latest batch of anti-employer bills. The California Chamber of Commerce has just identified a host of recently introduced “Job Killer” Bills … Continue Reading

January 2022 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted January 2022 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Manicurist Can Proceed With Hostile Work Environment Claim “Volunteers for Nonprofits Are Not Employees” – Court Affirms Order In Favor Of The American Film Institute … Continue Reading

Flight Attendants Are Entitled To Labor Code Compliant Wage Statements

Gunther v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 72 Cal. App. 5th 334 (2021) Julie Gunther is an Alaska Airlines flight attendant who lives in San Diego. In this PAGA claim, Gunther alleged that her wage statements are not compliant with Cal. Labor Code § 226 because they fail to state the total hours worked; the number of … Continue Reading

Employer Prevails On Breach Of Nondisclosure Agreement Claim Against Former Employee

Elation Sys., Inc. v. Fenn Bridge LLC, 71 Cal. App. 5th 958 (2021) Elation Systems sued one of its former software developers, Tiebiao “Joe” Shi, for breach of a nondisclosure agreement and a settlement agreement after he quit his employment and formed a new business entity called Efen Bridge (which became Fenn Bridge). At trial, … Continue Reading

November 2021 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted November 2021 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Ninth Circuit Resurrects California’s Anti-Arbitration Statute In-House Counsel’s Claim For Breach Of Oral Promise Of Contingency Fee Was Barred By Statute Employee Can Proceed With … Continue Reading

Order Denying Attorney’s Fees Under UTSA Is Not Separately Appealable

Dr. V. Prods., Inc. v. Rey, 68 Cal. App. 5th 793 (2021) Dr. V. Productions sued its former employee, Samantha Rey, for misappropriation of trade secrets under the Uniform Trade Secrets Act, breach of fiduciary duty and related claims.  After “significant discovery,” Dr. V. voluntarily dismissed its misappropriation of trade secrets claim.  Rey then filed a … Continue Reading

Governor Newsom Signs A Slew of New Employment Laws for 2022

As the 2021 legislative season came to a close, Governor Gavin Newsom signed numerous bills into law. From arbitration to workplace safety, these laws will impact employers across the state.  We have summarized the most important ones for you here: Arbitration Arbitration fees will now need to be paid upon receipt of invoice unless the … Continue Reading

PAGA Has Failed Californians – Unless You’re A Plaintiff’s Lawyer That is

We have long reported about that modern marvel of well-intentioned legislation gone awry known as the Private Attorneys General Act (“PAGA”) – and we also have noted that in practice, PAGA stands for Pretty-much All Goes to the Attorneys.  A recently published report (the “Report”) from some of the former leaders of the California Department … Continue Reading

September 2020 California Employment Law Notes

We invite you to review our newly-posted September 2020 California Employment Law Notes, a comprehensive review of the latest and most significant developments in California employment law. The highlights include: Employee Entitled To $17.2 Million For Wrongful Termination/Defamation “Continuing Violation” Theory Saves Employee’s Sexual Harassment Claim Tortious Interference With At-Will Contract Requires Independently Wrongful Act … Continue Reading

Litigant’s Attorney Is Entitled To Fees As “Prevailing Party” In UTSA Case

Aerotek, Inc. v. The Johnson Group Staffing Co., 2020 WL 5525180 (Cal. Ct. App. 2020) The law firm Porter Scott, P.C., defended its client The Johnson Group Staffing (TJG) through two rounds of litigation against claims asserted by TJG’s chief competitor Aerotek. In the litigation, Aerotek alleged that TJG (whose founder came from Aerotek) misappropriated … Continue Reading

Employees Are Entitled To Additional Compensation For Shortened Meal Periods

Kaanaana v. Barrett Bus. Servs., Inc., 2018 WL 6261482 (Cal. Ct. App. 2018) The employees in this case (belt sorters who worked at two publicly owned and operated recycling facilities under contracts with Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts) alleged the employers’ failure to pay the prevailing wage and to provide full 30-minute meal periods. The … Continue Reading

Unsuccessful Disability Discrimination Plaintiff Is Not Entitled To Attorney’s Fees

Bustos v. Global P.E.T., Inc., 19 Cal. App. 5th 558 (2017) William Bustos sued his former employer for disability discrimination. A jury determined that Bustos’ actual or perceived physical condition was a substantial motivating reason for his termination, but nevertheless returned defense verdicts on all of his claims. After the trial, Bustos sought an award … Continue Reading

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
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