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What is a fee shifting statute?

Anaheim, CA |

Unpaid overtime claims taken to the small claim court are a waste in time and completely useless. I learned that the hard way, and judges unknowingly are rendering labor laws meaningless. I didn't know that labor laws are fact specific and complex, and I didn't know because in my quest to collect my unpaid wages, I found no legal aid whatsoever and I prepared my own case assuming that I was going to win. Now that I gain knowledge and I got lots of legal advice, it is too late. So one question remains:
What is a fee shifting statute? What would this mean if this advice would have come earlier in my case for unpaid overtime and what would be the outcome?

Attorney Answers 2


A fee shifting statute is a code section enacted by legislation which provides an exception to the "American rule" that each party bear its own attorney's fees in litigation. In the employment context, one example would be Code of Civil Procedure section 1021.5 (private attorney general rule) in class actions.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.

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I agree with my colleague. A fee shifting statute is a law that changes the "American" rule where each side bears their own costs. An example would be Labor Code Section 218.5 which provides for attorneys fees for the prevailing party. Also, you can take your case to the Labor Commissioner for free or find an attorney who will be willing to represent you in Court on a contingency fee basis.

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