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Wage & Hour Prevailing Party/Attorney Fees


Ramos v. Garcia

Rogelio Ramos (Appellant) sued his former employers, Jose Robledo and Dora Garcia ("the two employers"; nonparties in this appeal), seeking to recover unpaid overtime, minimum wages and other compensation, and to impose job-related penalties. (Lab. Code,[1] §§ 1194, 226.7, 201, 203 [waiting time for payment], 226, subd. (f) [failure to turn over wage records].) Appellant obtained some of the monetary recovery he requested against the two employers. However, Appellant had also sued Manuel Garcia ("Respondent"), claiming he was an employer, but Appellant lost on all those claims as to Respondent, when the court found that Respondent was a manager and co-employee of the business, not an owner/employer.

Following trial, the court awarded Respondent attorney fees, as the "prevailing party" under section 218.5, which is commonly referred to as a two-way fee shifting provision. (Kirby v. Immoos Fire Protection, Inc. (2012) 53 Cal.4th 1244, 1258 (Kirby).) Appellant argues on appeal that the award of attorney fees to Respondent must be reversed because the statutory requirements of sections 218.5 and 1194 do not allow an award of attorney fees under these circumstances, in which Respondent was a prevailing employee defendant. We agree that the attorney fees award is not supported by the record and reverse with directions.


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