The California Supreme Court held that attorneys’ fees are not awardable to the winners in cases involving meal and rest period claims under Labor Code §226.7.
In Kirby v. Imoos Fire Protection, Inc., the Court held that a Labor Code §226.7 claim is not a claim for which attorney’s fees can be awarded to a prevailing employee under Labor Code §1194. That is because Labor Code §1194 allows a successful employee to recover attorneys’ fees only in an action for the “legal minimum wage or the legal overtime compensation.” Because the required payment for a missed meal/rest periods is not tantamount to a “legal minimum wage,” the Court concluded that attorneys’ fees were not recoverable under Labor Code §1194.
Similarly, the Court held that a Labor Code §226.7 claim is also not claim for which attorneys’ fees can be awarded under Labor Code §218.5. That is because Labor Code §218.5 allows a successful party – either the employee or the employer – to recover attorneys’ fees only in an action for the “nonpayment of wages.” Because the required payment for a missed meal/rest period is not the result of the “nonpayment of wages,” – it is, instead, the result of the non-provision of meal/rest periods – the Court concluded that attorneys’ fees were also not recoverable under Labor Code §218.5.
The Court’s opinion is available here.