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.