A recent September 14, 2021, decision the New Hampshire Supreme Court reaffirmed that, under the New Hampshire Wage Claim statute in Chapter 275, an employee may receive reasonable attorney’s fees if he or she prevails.
The catch is that it is not always easy to get fees at the first stage of the proceeding which begins with a claim filed at the Department of Labor in Concord. In the recent case of Henriques v. ClearChoiceMD, the Supreme Court upheld the denial of fees at the level of the Department of Labor because no evidence was provided with respect to the amount of the fees.
The claimant appealed to the Superior Court, which ruled in his favor and also awarded attorney’s fees.
The employer then appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court and after the employee prevailed there, the question arose as to whether an award of attorney’s fees should also include reasonable fees incurred in an appeal to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said that an employee may file a properly supported motion for reasonable fees incurred on the appeal within 30 days of the date of the Court’s order. While the amounts are not known from the opinion of the Supreme Court fees for a hearing in Superior Court and then briefing and arguing in the Supreme Court are certainly in the range of $20,000 - $30,000.
Thus, even if your wage claim is only a few thousand dollars if an attorney deems it to be meritorious, they may well take the case on a contingent basis, knowing the odds are strong that fees will be awarded if the claimant wins. If you have an employment-related question on unpaid wages or wage and hour violations you need an experienced NH employment lawyer. Please contact us at 1-800-240-1988 or fill out our online contact form.