Fee Award to Prevailing Employer in Certain Actions Requires Employee Bad Faith

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Existing law, with certain exceptions, requires a court in any action brought for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions, to award reasonable attorneys' fees and costs to the prevailing party if any party to the action requests attorney's fees and costs at the time action is initiated.

Senate Bill 462 amends California Labor Code §218.5 to make the award of attorneys' fees and costs where the prevailing party is not an employee contingent on a finding by the court that the employee brought the court action in bad faith. The law does not apply to actions brought by the California Labor Commissioner. The law also does not apply to a claim for which attorneys' fees are recoverable under California Labor Code § 1194, which allows an employee to sue for unpaid or underpaid minimum wages or overtime and recover reasonable attorneys' fees if they prevail in the action.