Third Circuit Affirms Award of Attorneys’ Fees in Wal-Mart Retaliation Case
A plaintiff does not have to prevail on all of his claims in order to be awarded attorneys’ fees. In Boles v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., the Third Circuit affirmed an award of attorneys’ fees to a plaintiff who succeeded on only one of his claims. No. 15-3128, 2016 WL 2990406 (3d Cir. May 24, 2016). Barry Boles was an employee of Wal-Mart who took unpaid medical leave for several months. Id. at *1. Upon being cleared by his doctor, Boles received a termination letter dated one day after he attempted to come back to work. Id. at *2.
Boles filed a complaint against Wal-Mart alleging retaliation and failure to accommodate based on Wal-Mart’s refusal to grant extended leave in violation of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination. Id. Boles’ retaliation claim was successful and the District Court granted his motion for attorneys’ fees and costs. Id. On appeal, Wal-Mart argued that the award of attorneys’ fees should be reduced because Boles only succeeded on one of his claims. Id. at *4. The Third Circuit affirmed the awards of attorneys’ fees because Boles’ claims revolved around the same events, witnesses, and facts, and the work of his attorneys’ could not be separated out by claim. Id. It also affirmed the award because Boles achieved overall success due to being awarded back pay, emotional distress damages, and punitive damages. Id.