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Losing Employee Ordered to Pay Employer's Court Costs 10-12-2003
- By Rita Risser, attorney at law

Employers often feel that even if they win an employment case, they lose because of all the money spent on attorneys fees and court costs. Employers also say there is no disincentive for employees to file marginal cases. A recent case in California upholds the employer's right to seek court costs against losing employees.

The employee sued for discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on race, national origin, and the filing of EEOC complaints. At trial, the court found in favor of the employer on all bases. The employer than filed a motion requesting that the employee pay over $13,000 in court costs. The employee appealed, saying that she should only be forced to pay costs if her suit was "frivolous, unreasonable or groundless." Although she lost the case, the court did not find that it was frivolous.

The appeals court held that the winning party is entitled to court costs from the losing person, even if the action is not frivolous. On the other hand, in order for the employee to be required to pay the employer's attorney's fees, there would have to be a determination that the suit was frivolous.

This should serve as a reminder to employees and their attorneys that there can be severe financial repercussions if they lose their cases. Hopefully, only good cases will be brought as a result.

Perez v. County of Santa Clara, (CA 6th, 2003) H024330

Information here is correct at the time it is posted. Case decisions cited here may be reversed. Please do not rely on this information without consulting an attorney first.
 
 
     
 
 
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