Legal Memorandum: Calculation of Attorney's Fees

Issue: How are attorney’s fees calculated in employment discrimination cases before the Department of Labor?

Area of Law: Administrative Law, Administrative Law & Regulation (Federal and State), Employee Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Attorney's fees; Employment discrimination cases; Lodestar method
Jurisdiction: Federal
Cited Cases: 968 F. Supp. 765; 134 F. Supp. 2d 218; 247 F.3d 288; 749 F.2d 945; 984 F.2d 4; 465 U.S. 886
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 03/01/2004



In employment discrimination matters before the DOL, the Secretary of Labor has instructed the parties to use the lodestar method to determine attorney’s fees.  See Gutierrez v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal., ARB Case No. 99-116, ALJ Case No. 98-ERA-19, 2004 WL 384743, at *2 (Admin. Rev. Bd. Feb. 6, 2004).  Thus, the ALJ must multiply the reasonable number of hours expended by a reasonable hourly billing rate.  Id., 2004 WL 384743, at *2.

It is well settled that a party seeking attorney’s fees must submit contemporaneous billing records as evidence of the time spent on the case.  Grendel’s Den, Inc. v. Larkin, 749 F.2d 945 (1st Cir. 1984).  “[T]he absence of detailed contemporaneous time records, except in extraordinary circumstances, will call for a substantial reduction in any award or, in egregious cases, disallowance.”  Id. at 952; See Gay Officers Action League v. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, 247 F.3d 288, 295-96 (1st Cir. 2001) (attorney contemporaneous billing records are the usual starting point in fashioning any award).  Although an attorney’s fees award is normally left to the hearing judge’s discretion, appellate courts will examine such awards in great depth when there have been no contemporaneous time records submitted and the hourly rate claimed is extraordinarily high.  Grendel’s Den, 749 F.2d at 950. 

In Ramos v. Davis & Geck, Inc., 968 F. Supp. 765 (D.P.R. 1997), the district court reduced […]

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