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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12921
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Is an employee who prevails on california labor code section

Customer Question

Is an employee who prevails on california labor code section 6311 claim entitled to attorney fees?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 4 years ago.
Good evening and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I will do everything I can to assist you.

The answer to your question is somewhat complicated. Only if a section 6311 claim is brought pursuant to the procedure set forth in the Private Attorney Generals Act ("PAGA") as a "PAGA claim" will a prevailing plaintiff will be entitled to attorney fees. In such instance, it would be Labor Code 2699 that entitles them to fees.

PAGA provides employees with a private right of action against an employer in order to collect penalties on behalf of the state’s Labor and Workforce Development Agency (LWDA) and Division of Occupational Health and Safety (DOHS). This is different than simply bringing a private cause of action because claims under PAGA are intended to be for the "greater public good." Essentially, PAGA deputizes an aggrieved employee as a “private attorney general” to enforce Labor Code provisions.

Not just any violation can be brought as a PAGA claim, though. Specific procedural and administrative requirements must be met in order to initiate a PAGA claim. These requirements are rather complex, but most important one is that the employee must notify the Division of Occupational Health and Safety and LWDA of the violation and each must refuse to issue a citation.

There are additional procedural requirements as well, but this is the most important one. Only if no citation is issued may the plaintiff proceed with a PAGA claim. (If you think about this, it makes sense, since PAGA encourages plaintiffs to act as "attorney generals" and pursue claims in the public good when no government agency will do so on its own volition).

Unless a Labor Code 6311 claim falls under PAGA, the default rule applies, which is that each party to a lawsuit bears its own costs and attorney fees.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.