understanding legal fees

Legal Fees in Employment Law Cases

Understanding Who Pays Legal Fees

In employment law cases, the issue of who pays for legal fees can be complex and varies depending on the specific circumstances of each case. Generally, the standard rule is that each party is responsible for their own legal fees. However, there are notable exceptions and specific scenarios where this might change.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers are not typically required to pay for the employee’s legal fees unless an agreement or a settlement specifies otherwise. In many settlement negotiations, it is common for employers to offer to cover some or all of the employee’s legal fees as an incentive to reach a quicker resolution. This can be particularly advantageous for employers as it may help avoid prolonged litigation and associated costs.

  • Negotiated Settlements:
    • Settlement agreements may include clauses where the employer agrees to cover the employee’s legal fees, either partially or in full. This is often a strategic decision to encourage settlement without further legal disputes.
  • Court Awards:
    • In some cases, courts may order the losing party to pay the legal fees of the winning party. However, this is not the norm in employment cases and is more common in other types of litigation.

Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) Cases

Human rights cases, especially those that go through the HRTO, have different rules regarding legal fees. The HRTO generally does not award legal costs to either party, meaning that both the complainant and the respondent must bear their own legal expenses regardless of the case’s outcome. This policy is designed to promote access to justice by ensuring that individuals are not deterred from bringing forward human rights complaints due to the fear of incurring significant legal costs.

  • Self-Representation and Legal Aid:
    • Many individuals choose to represent themselves or seek assistance from legal aid services due to the lack of cost awards in HRTO cases. This approach helps to minimize expenses and ensures that individuals can still pursue justice even without substantial financial resources.
  • Impact on Employers and Employees:
    • Both employers and employees need to be aware of these cost implications when involved in HRTO cases. Employers should be prepared to cover their legal expenses without expecting reimbursement, and employees should seek affordable legal assistance or consider self-representation where possible.

Practical Tips for Managing Legal Fees

  • Clear Agreements:
    • Employers and employees should strive to have clear agreements regarding legal fees in any settlement discussions. Explicitly outlining who will cover legal costs can prevent misunderstandings and future disputes.
  • Seek Legal Advice:
    • Both parties should seek professional legal advice to understand their rights and obligations regarding legal fees. Legal professionals can provide guidance on negotiating settlements and navigating HRTO proceedings effectively.
  • Cost Management:
    • Employers and employees can manage legal costs by exploring alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation, which can be less costly and time-consuming than litigation.


Legal fees are a significant consideration in employment law cases, and understanding who is responsible for these costs is crucial. While employers are not typically obligated to pay employee legal fees, negotiated settlements and court orders can alter this responsibility. In HRTO cases, the absence of cost awards means both parties must be prepared to cover their own expenses. Seeking legal advice and managing costs effectively can help both employers and employees navigate these issues with greater confidence.

Contact Achkar Law

If you need legal support for your employment law or human rights case, Achkar Law is here to help. We thoroughly review your situation to gain a solid understanding of your case, listen to your concerns, and ensure you understand your rights and legal options. Our lawyers will make it clear what any potential legal fees might be, so you can make informed decisions. Contact Achkar Law today for guidance tailored to your specific needs.

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Facing Employment Law Issues or Human Rights Violations? Contact Achkar Law

If you are dealing with employment law challenges or have experienced a violation of your human rights, the supportive lawyers at Achkar Law are here to help. We provide excellent guidance and representation to ensure your rights are protected and your concerns are addressed. Reach out to us for a consultation to explore your legal options and take the necessary steps towards resolution.