If you take your California wage claim to civil court, you are entitled to your attorney’s fees and costs, but only if you win your case. Even then, the court has discretion as to how much to award you in attorney’s fees and costs. The court may not award you anything, or it could award you the full amount.
If you have any questions about a potential wage claim you may have, like an overtime wage claim or an unpaid vacation pay wage claim, contact us now for a free consultation.
The court usually determines how much to award in attorney’s fees by calculating how many hours your lawyer spends on your case and multiplying that number by the lawyer’s hourly rate, so long as the hourly rate is competitive in the geographic location where the lawyer works. So, if your lawyer spends 100 hours on your case and normally charges $300/hour, the attorney’s fees the court could award could be as much as $30,000.
Keep in mind that most lawyers who handle wage claims in California (like Strauss & Strauss) do so on a contingency basis, meaning that they take a percentage of what they get for you. For example, depending on your agreement with your lawyer, the lawyer could take 40% of what he or she recovers for you. So, if you recover $10,000 in unpaid wages, the lawyer would get $4,000 as his portion.
If the court awards attorney’s fees in addition to the recovered wages, the lawyer may take either his 40% cut of the total amount or the attorney’s fees awarded by the court, but this depends on your agreement with your lawyer.
If you take your wage claim to the California Labor Commissioner, you cannot recover your attorney’s fees. You may be able to recover your attorney fees and costs in an appeal to civil court from the Labor Commissioner’s decision.