Typically, employers that lose discrimination lawsuits have to pay the employee’s attorneys’ fees in addition to any jury award. But the opposite isn’t true—employees almost never have to pay their employer’s lawyers unless the case was frivolous.
Recent case: Onyedika Nwaebube sued his employer, the North Carolina Employment Security Commission, arguing that years of discrimination had cost him several promotions. The case went to trial, and after four days, the jury ruled against Nwaebube. The state had paid over $65,000 in legal fees and asked the court to make Nwaebube pick up a modest part of the tab—$2,700—to discourage him from filing more lawsuits.
The court refused. It reasoned that since the jury took four days to make a decision, the case wasn’t frivolous. (Nwaebube v. Employment Security Commission of North Carolina, 5:09-CV-395, ED NC, 2011)
- Courts won't hear it: Don't try piling on after-the-fact reasons for termination
- Beware disciplining by withholding pay raises
- Don't let EEOC complaint derail planned firing
- ADA disability: Always allow for individualized assessment of employee's condition
- How many kinds of harassment policies do we need?