How much does an employment attorney cost

July 18, 2022

How Much Does An Employment Lawyer Cost?

If you have recently had a dispute with your employer or employee, you may need to hire an employment lawyer. Employment attorneys can make a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case, helping you secure compensation for damages and guiding you through the complex proceedings your case is likely to entail. It is essential to consider what the cost and legal fees of such a lawsuit, which will vary depending on the case, but some standard charges apply to all employment law claims.

Employment law attorneys can charge different rates and fee ranges based on a number of factors. Complicated matters that require significant time investment are usually billed at a higher rate. It is wholly reasonable to ask an employment lawyer why they charge the rates they do and why they structure their fees in a certain way. Regardless of how an employment attorney structures their fees, their fee information should be provided upfront. Workers should never sign an attorney-client agreement until they understand how much their attorneys' services will cost.

Attorney Fee Arrangement Types

Employment lawyers may offer a few types of fee arrangements to handle a discrimination or harassment case. Employment cases can vary depending on the manner in which employment lawyers charge fees may depend on a number of factors including the complexity of the case, the lawyer's own experience, or even their track record with similar cases. The agreement you and your employment attorney enter into will also depend, in part, on the type of services you are seeking. An employment lawyer may offer potential clients a better position based on the details of the case and possible results obtained from litigation.

Contingency Fee Arrangement

This type of fee operates on the outcome of the case, meaning that the lawyer will only be paid if you receive a settlement or judgment in your case. It also means that you, as the client, will not have to pay any fees or charges until your case is settled or a judgment is entered. If the lawyer is successful, they will take a percentage of the award.

An attorney advertising that they operate on a contingency fee basis will often have some form of free initial consultation or free case evaluation to discuss details of your case. Following the free evaluation, many attorneys will then offer a contract guaranteeing them a specific percentage of any damages, back wages, or other contingency fees that you receive after your claim is decided. In this scenario, the attorney makes nothing in attorneys' fees if you do not win any money, so you are not actually paying your lawyer out of pocket if you are not awarded any money. Contingency fees frequently apply to employment law claims that involve employer discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination.

Hourly Fee Arrangement

Employment attorneys who work on an hourly fee charge both for the time that they spend talking to you about your claim and for time they spend researching specific information for your claim, filing paperwork, making phone calls on your behalf, or appearing for you in court or at meetings. A new lawyer may have a lower hourly rate compared to more experienced employment lawyers, however, you will have to consider the potential for lower cost with the possibility of lower quality legal representation.

If you work with an employment lawyer that works on an hourly basis you can set a limit on the number of hours that you want to pay for to make sure that you do not get hit with a huge surprise bill. Often it’s worth it to pay for an hour of the attorney’s time and talk to them about your situation to get their opinion on what your options are if you think that you have been a victim of workplace discrimination or wrongful termination. Some attorneys may ask for a retainer or a sum of money up front before they will start working to make sure that they are going to get paid.

Retainer Fee Arrangement

Retainer fees are advanced payment based on an hourly rate. Clients put money into a special account, and the lawyer deducts fees as services are completed. The client is responsible for reviewing the account periodically, and you should be aware that the retainer fee is generally refundable if not used by the lawyer.

Flat Fee

Employment lawyers that work on a flat fee will charge one price for a set amount of work. For example, if you want a consultation they will charge one flat fee for the consult, or if you want to file a claim they will charge another fee for that, but that fee will include all of the work that must be done to file the claim. Additionally, if the case evolves and more work is required, your lawyer may adjust or modify the amount. It is important that you enquire about specifics and find out exactly what the fees cover before they begin working on your case.

Sliding Scale

When a law firm bills by the hour, they may do so on a sliding scale, in which the firm may charge one rate for the hours an employment attorney spends working on your case and a lower rate if a paralegal or administrative assistant spends time working on your case.

Litigation Costs

In addition to attorneys' fees, there are hard dollar litigation costs often incurred as part of litigation. These range from filing fees, to service costs, deposition transcripts, or expert witness fees. Who is responsible for paying litigation costs and at what point those costs have to be paid should be outlined in the written fee agreement.

Attorneys' Fees and Costs Can Be Recoverable in Certain Cases

In some types of workplace lawsuits, such as discrimination or harassment claims, the court may award you attorneys' fees and litigation costs as part of the final judgment. However, this award may not be large enough to cover the entire amount owed to your attorney under the legal fee contract. Therefore, the contingency fee contract should spell out what happens to a court award of attorneys' fees and costs.

What Does an Employment Attorney Cost Cover?

Employment lawyers focus their practice on assisting clients in matters governed by employment law. Employment law broadly regulates the rights of employees and the obligations of employers through local, state, and federal employment laws. The Department of Fair Employment and Housing is the California government agency charged with enforcing California's civil rights laws. Employment lawyers may defend either workers or employers who are parties to a workplace dispute, and can help both workers and employers navigate compliance challenges related to employment law. If an employment law has been violated, an employment lawyer will clarify the legal rights of those who have been harmed. Should the party who has been harmed wish to pursue legal action, an employment lawyer will construct a compelling legal argument to advance the goals of that action.

Due to the intricacies of this area of law, and the potential consequences associated with either acting or failing to act if your rights have been violated, it’s important to contact an employment lawyer if you are facing any of the following workplace challenges:

  • Wrongful Termination
  • Wage and Hour Law Violations
  • Unsafe Working Conditions or Practices
  • Severance Issues
  • Retaliation
  • Misclassification
  • Leave of Absence Challenges
  • Hostile Work Environment
  • Contractual Questions
  • Accommodation Issues
  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Unpaid Wages

Depending on the specifics of your situation, working with an employment lawyer can result in a significant compensation award, reinstatement, a safer work environment, and/or other consequences designed to hold your employer accountable for their legal violations. There are significant advantages to an attorney client relationship, do not let concerns about the cost of legal representation keep you from contacting an experienced employment lawyer if you are in need of assistance. Sliding scale fees, contingency fee arrangements, and other common-sense fee structures can help to ensure that you can afford legal guidance regardless of your financial situation.

How much does an employment lawyer cost is an essential question in selecting the right lawyer, and how much an attorney charges can vary drastically even within a law firm, but right lawyer can enable you to gross recovery amounting to significant pay you are entitled to.

Why do Employment Attorneys Charge Different Rates?

There are a number of different factors that could influence how employment lawyers determine their fees. An employment lawsuit can have a range of complications, from substantial court costs to out of pocket expenses, which can significantly alter your employment attorney's fee structure. Here are some of the key factors that could determine how your potential employment law firm calculates their hourly fees, contingent fees, and any other charges associated with the case:

  • The skills and abilities your lawyer possesses
  • Their specialization or expertise in employment law
  • The time and resources devoted to your case
  • Complexity of the legal/logistic issues involved
  • The certifications or special training an attorney may have that apply to your case
  • The size, reputation, and track record of the lawyers and the law firms that employ them
  • The location of where legal services are provided

While these are generally the factors that may affect your employment lawyer's fees, it is important to remember that if your case goes to trial, you may also be responsible for litigation costs such as: court filing fees, discovery costs, expert witness costs, and any other overhead costs required to complete your case.

Employment Case Example

Let's say you were wrongfully terminated last week due to your sexual orientation. This is a clear violation of your workplace rights, and now you require legal representation. Below are some typical steps taken in employment cases:

Free Initial Consultation

First, many attorneys offer a free case evaluation, commonly an in-person meeting at the lawyer's offices or via Zoom. Come prepared with any documents that are relevant to your case, as well as questions that you want to ask your attorney.

Written Fee Agreement

This is a contract that will determine the nature of your attorney client relationship, specifically the fee arrangement type. For example, a contingency fee agreement will explicate the attorney will only be paid if they win the case, with the payment coming as a percentage of the settlement. A contingency fee arrangement could include some additional services offered on an hourly basis, or stipulations with class actions or hourly rates. You must sign the written fee agreement to officially retain your attorney.

Addressing Legal Issues

Employment lawyers offer a variety of services depending on your case, many are attempting to reach a settlement between employers and employees. For example, an employment lawyer can draft a proposed severance agreement, essentially a contract that an employer may ask an employee to sign when they are terminated from a job. Severance pay is often offered in exchange for an employee's release of their claims against the employer. However, an employer cannot charge employees to release their claims in exchange of payment for hours already worked or benefits already owed to the employee.


Contact an attorney at Freeburg & Granieri to discuss your employment law case. You also could be helping other people who are in the same situation but can’t or don’t want to speak out about the violations that are occurring at that workplace. Hire an employment lawyer at the law firm of Freeburg & Granieri, APC, to represent you as an employer or employee and discuss our specific attorney costs.


Contact us

Our clients become friends, confidants, and repeat customers. Former clients are our best referral source.

Do not be a commodity, find an attorney who treats your legal issue with the care it deserves.

Centered in Pasadena and serving all of California – including, but not limited to, Fresno County (Clovis, Fresno, San Joaquin); Kern County (Arvin, Bakersfield, Delano, Mojave, Tehachapi); Los Angeles County (Alhambra, Burbank, Calabasas, Encino, Glendale, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, San Gabriel, Santa Monica, Torrance, Whittier); Mono County (June Lake, Mammoth Lakes); Riverside County (Coachella, Corona, Indian Wells, Moreno Valley, Murrieta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Riverside, Temecula); San Bernardino County (Barstow, Big Bear Lake, Chino, Fontana, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Upland, Yucca Valley); San Diego County (Carlsbad, Chula Vista, Encinitas, Oceanside, San Diego); San Luis Obispo County (Arroyo Grande, Atascadero, Cambria, Morro Bay, Paso Robles, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo); Stanislaus County (Ceres, Modesto, Oakdale, Turlock, Riverbank, Salida); Ventura County (Camarillo, Oxnard, Thousand Oaks, Ventura)
Mon : 8:00am - 6:00pm
Tue: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Wed: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Thurs: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Fri: 8:00am - 6:00pm
Sat & Sun: Closed
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram