Attorneys’ Fees Award Falls After Reversal of Injunctive Relief in Age Discrimination Case

The plaintiff lost his job due to a reduction-in-force and subsequently sued his former employer for age discrimination. A jury decided that, although the company had harbored some discriminatory motive, the plaintiff would have been fired anyway. The plaintiff filed a post-trial motion which, in part, sought declaratory and injunctive relief. As requested in the plaintiff’s motion, the district court enjoined the employer from discriminating on the basis of age anywhere, anytime, “especially during reductions in force,” and awarded the plaintiff attorneys’ fees because, in the district court’s view, plaintiff had prevailed in proving that his termination was motivated in part by unlawful age discrimination. The employer appealed.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with the employer, finding that the plaintiff’s failure to seek injunctive relief until after judgment was unduly prejudicial to the employer and operated as a waiver of the plaintiff’s claim. In addition, because the Fifth Circuit vacated the injunction, it determined that the plaintiff did not obtain any relief on the merits and was not a prevailing party entitled to attorneys’ fees.

Peterson v. Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc.

Trevor M. Cutaiar