California Attorney Fee Shifting Provision

"The aim of fee-shifting statutes is 'to enable private parties to obtain legal help in seeking redress for injuries resulting from the actual or threatened violation of specific . . . laws. Hence, if plaintiffs . . . find it possible to engage a lawyer based on the statutory assurance that he will be paid a "reasonable fee," the purpose behind the fee-shifting statute has been satisfied.' " (Flannery v. Prentice (2001) 26 Cal.4th 572, 583.) "There is no doubt that ' "privately initiated lawsuits are often essential to the effectuation of the fundamental public policies embodied in constitutional or statutory provisions" ' , and ' "without some mechanism authorizing the award of attorney fees, private actions to enforce such important public policies will as a practical matter frequently be infeasible." ' " (Flannery v. Prentice, supra, 26 Cal.4th at p. 583.) Regarding such fundamental public policies, "the basic, underlying purpose of FEHA is to safeguard the right of Californians to seek, obtain, and hold employment without experiencing discrimination on account of race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, medical disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, or sexual orientation. (Gov. Code, 12920; .)" (Flannery v. Prentice, supra, 26 Cal.4th at pp. 582-583.) Moreover, this fundamental policy that people be able to seek and hold employment free from prejudice recognizes that " 'job discrimination "foments domestic strife and unrest, deprives the state of the fullest utilization of its capacities for development and advance, and substantially and adversely affects the interest of employees, employers, and the public in general." ' " (Id. at p. 584.)