Is an Attorney Demand Letter Conditioning Payment of Six Figure Settlement Extortion?

When Demand Letters Qualify As Extortion

You state, "We just received a letter from an attorney representing one of our current/former employees/contractors/workers claiming violations of employment laws and demands that we pay a six figure settlement in seven days or he will file a civil lawsuit. Is this extortion?"

The California Courts of Appeal have generally concluded that an attorney’s pre-litigation communications — including demand letters — constitute extortion if they threaten to file a criminal complaint or otherwise report criminal activities to government authorities.

But Courts have recognized that threats to file non-sham civil litigation are not extortion under California law, as any conclusion to the contrary would likely violate the First Amendment.

For more information on deciphering when demand letters qualify as extortion, feel free to contact our office at (424) 249-3631.


Lisa Sherman
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California Employer Defense Attorney