California law requires that in any action brought for the nonpayment of wages, fringe benefits, or health and welfare or pension fund contributions, a court must award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the prevailing party as long as one of the parties requested attorney’s fees at the commencement of the action.  Unfortunately for California employers, that is no longer the case.

The new law amends Section 218.5 of the California Labor Code to provide that an award of attorney’s fees and costs where the prevailing party is not an employee is contingent on a finding by the court that the employee brought his or her claim against the employer in bad faith.  However, employers and attorneys should note that this section will not apply to claims to recover minimum wage or overtime compensation.  Further, Section 218.5 does not apply to claims brought for unpaid meal and rest breaks.