Court Explains Decision to Affirm $264,612.50 Attorney Fee Award in Gender Discrimination/Hostile Work Environment Case

In Hernandez v. Kaisman, 2016 WL 1737263 (N.Y. App. 1st Dept. May 3, 2016), the court affirmed the lower court’s award of attorney fees in the amount of $264,612.50. The New York City Human Rights Law provides for an award of a reasonable attorney fee to the prevailing party.

In upholding the fee award in this case, the court noted:

[T]he fee award set by the court, which is substantially less than the amount requested, is not unreasonably high. The court was not required to reduce fees further to reflect a relative lack of success; the unsuccessful claims involve[d] a common core of facts or were based on related legal theories, so that [m]uch of counsel’s time w[as] devoted generally to the litigation as a whole, making it difficult to divide the hours expended on a claim-by-claim basis. There is also no per se rule against awarding fees in excess of damages recovered; indeed, fees may even be appropriate where a party recovers only nominal damages—at least where, as here, the litigation served a significant public purpose. The instant case enabled the courts to clarify the standard applicable to hostile work environment claims under the [New York City Human Rights Law].

Here is plaintiff’s complaint; I previously wrote about this case here.

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