Federal civil rights actions are somewhat unique in that they allow the prevailing party to be granted “reasonable attorney’s fees.” An employer on the wrong side of a decision or verdict could leave it paying (a) damages; (b) its attorney’s fees and (c) its adversary’s attorney’s fees. But what are “reasonable” attorney fees? In Sommerfield v. City of Chicago, the Seventh Circuit shed some light on this important question.
Articles Discussing Attorney Fee Awards Under Title VII.
In an 8-0 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that attorneys’ fees for successfully defending a Title VII action can be recovered by an employer even if the defendant’s victory is not based on the merits of the case. CRST Van Expedited, Inc. v. EEOC, No. 14-1375 (May 19, 2016). The ruling overturned an earlier Eighth Circuit decision that had allowed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to escape payment of attorneys’ fees. The ruling is important because defendants sometimes prevail in frivolous lawsuits for procedural reasons that are not merits-based.