In Dane-Elec v. Bodokh, the Court examined whether an employer may recover attorney fees incurred in successfully defending a wage claim, found not to have been brought in bad faith, when the wage claim was inextricably intertwined with a contract claim for which the employer would otherwise be contractually entitled to recover attorney fees. The Court said no, an employer may not recover in that situation. The Court started with the fact that Labor Code section 218.5, an attorney fee-shifting statute in actions for nonpayment of wages, prohibits a prevailing party employer from recovering attorney fees unless the trial court finds the employee brought the wage claim in bad faith. The Court said that if the wage claim is inextricably intertwined with a claim subject to a contractual prevailing party attorney fees provision, that section 218.5(a)’s prohibition on recovering attorney fees controls over the contractual attorney fees provision.
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