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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Don't Count on Attorney's Fees Even if You Win Your Case

It can be frustrating to have to defend your company or business against what you consider frivolous legal claims by employees. Unfortunately, that’s just another cost of doing business.

As the following case shows, even when you win the case and thought it should never have been filed, you probably won’t persuade a court to penalize the employee by having him pay your legal fees.

A Texas county’s collective bargaining agreement specified that qualified applicants could bid on promotion opportunities and the most senior employee would be awarded the job.

Carry, a municipal trash collector and a member of the county’s union, applied for a promotion to a different city job. While he technically was the most senior worker who applied, he also had a terrible attendance record and had come close to being fired because of it.

A different employee was selected. Carry sued, alleging breach of contract.
The county argued that while Carry was technically qualified, it wasn’t limited to considering just experience; it could also consider other factors like reliability. The court tossed out the case after agreeing with the employer’s definition of “qualified.”

The county asked that Carry be forced to pay for its attorneys’ fees, arguing that it had expended time and money defending against a frivolous claim.
The court refused to make Carry pay. It reasoned that while his claim wasn’t a winning one, it wasn’t entirely frivolous. (Amos v. City of Mon­ roe, No. 14-30780, 5th Cir., 2014)

If you would like more information about this topic or have general legal questions, please feel free to contact me at (973)949-3770 or via email at plamont@peterlamontesq.com Offices in: New Jersey New York, Colorado & Puerto Rico and affiliated offices throughout the country.

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