Key Decisions

August 2012 – Does Not Entitle The Employer To Attorney’s Fees

(filed under: Key Decisions Archive | August 16, 2012)

Other Cases Of Interest

When An Employee’s Appeal Of The Labor Commissioner’s Decision Is Dismissed On Jurisdictional Grounds, That Does Not Entitle The Employer To Attorney’s Fees

Arias v. Kardoulias
(Cal. Ct. of App., 2d Dist.), filed July 26, 2012

Rebecca Arias filed a wage claim with the California Labor Commissioner against Lupe Kardoulias, her sister and employer, seeking to recover unpaid wages earned while caring for their elderly father. The commissioner awarded Arias $6,319.69. Arias sought more than that and appealed to the Superior Court. The Superior Court dismissed her appeal as being untimely. As the prevailing party in the appeal, Kardoulias sought attorney’s fees under Labor Code section 98.2(a). The trial court awarded her $6,395 in attorney fees and costs.

The Court of Appeal reversed. It held that when an employee loses an appeal because the Superior Court lacks jurisdiction, it is not equivalent to a finding that no further wages are owed. Section 98.2(a) does not entitle an employer to attorney’s fees. The court reasoned that Section 98.2(a) exists to deter frivolous appeals and that losing on jurisdictional grounds does not equate with a frivolous appeal.