Fla. Stat. ch. 760.10(13) (1985) authorizes the Florida Commission on Human Relations to award an aggrieved party an attorney's fee in the event it finds the occurrence of an unlawful employment practice.
The attorneys in underlying action represented appellee bus drivers in their action charging appellant Department of Education with unlawful employment practices (UEP). The attorneys also represented the unions in a challenge to appellant's new rule limiting the age of bus drivers to 70. The hearing officer held that the new rule was invalid and pursuant to such decision, ordered appellant to rehire appellees. Upon hearing the UEP action, the hearing officer concluded that appellant had committed a UEP and awarded attorney's fees pursuant to Fla. Stat. ch. 760.10(13) (1985). The Florida Commission on Human Relations adopted the hearing officer's recommended order, but determined that appellees were entitled to attorney's fees for the attorneys' services in the rule challenge litigation as well as the UEP action. Appellant challenged the order and the court reversed to the extent that the award included attorney's fees for services provided by the same attorney's in a related collateral matter.
Were appellees entitled to attorney's fees for the rule challenge action?
The attorneys did not represent the individual appellees in the rule challenge litigation. The court noted that although there was supporting authority to support an award of attorney's fees in a collateral proceeding but those cases involved attorneys representing the same clients in each action.