Michael Avenatti leaves the federal court in New York City.

Attorneys Should Relearn Rules of Civility: Gerald Sauer’s article for Bloomberg Law

Basic tenets of civility and decorum in the legal profession are being drowned out by a win-at-any-cost mentality, writes Gerald Sauer, founding partner at Sauer & Wagner LLP in Los Angeles. Legal rules, ethics standards, and principles of civility were established not for the purpose of being pushed and broken, but to ensure a system of fairness, he says.

by Gerald Sauer

Recently, a judge before whom I appeared told me that I had an “old-school sense of ethics.” Her comment took me by surprise, but upon further reflection I realized that she was right: I always wear a suit and tie to court; I stand up when I’m speaking to a judge, and I treat witnesses and opposing counsel with respect. I’m decidedly “old school.”

How sad. That I’m considered an outlier in my profession speaks to the pervasive degradation of the practice of law. In a society increasingly defined by the norms of reality TV, it seems to have become acceptable for lawyers to push buttons and break rules.

Read full story on Bloomberg Law

Job (In)Security: How to Manage Economic Uncertainty: Sonya Goodwin’s article for Glassdoor

The coronavirus pandemic might be the biggest threat to employees — and the economy — since the 2008 recession. Are you protected if your employer cuts back your hours or lays you off?

by Sonya Goodwin

Time Off? 

If you need time off because you or a loved one is affected by coronavirus, or if your place of work or child’s school is closed, you may get up to two weeks’ paid sick leave under a proposed law that passed the House on March 13 and is expected to clear the Senate. As currently drafted, the law covers employers with fewer than 500 employees but exempts smaller employers who can prove economic hardship.  

Some large employers are adopting policies to respond to the pandemic. On top of existing paid sick leave, Walmart will provide up to two weeks’ paid leave for ill or quarantined employees. Darden Restaurants, the parent of Olive Garden, will permanently provide paid sick leave to all hourly employees. State and local governments may also provide limited paid sick leave, and you might be eligible for state disability leave if you’re sick with coronavirus.

Read full story on Glassdoor.com

Can My Employer Share My Personal Info? Sonya Goodwin’s article for Glassdoor

Until recently, employers had a lot of latitude to use, share and even market your private information.

by Sonya Goodwin

Gone are the days when you could share droves of personal information with your employer without fear that the company could share or even sell that data outside the company. 

After all, unlike other countries, the U.S. lacks universal comprehensive data protection laws except for narrow areas such as for medical information. 

Luckily, new state laws strengthen your ability to control your information.

Last year, California passed the nation’s first comprehensive law designed to give consumers and employees more control over who has their personal information and what they can do with it. Other states, as well as Congress, are watching the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and some are moving to enact their own data privacy laws. 

Read full story on Glassdoor.com

Judge Orders Preliminary Injunction on Law Prohibiting Mandatory Arbitration Agreements in California

by Gerald Sauer

Earlier this month, a District Court judge issued a preliminary injunction on the enforcement of Assembly Bill 51 (“AB 51”), the new law that prohibits mandatory arbitration agreements in the employment context.   The business groups that filed suit against the bill argued that it was preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”) because (1) it puts arbitration agreements on an unequal footing from other contracts, which is prohibited by the FAA, and (2) it conflicts with the objectives of the FAA to promote arbitration.  

In her order, the judge found that the business groups were likely to prevail on the merits and face irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is not issued.  However, it is important to note that the injunction only applies to arbitration agreements covered by the FAA – in other words, if the employment relationship involves interstate commerce. 

Accordingly, mandatory arbitration agreements governed by the FAA are still enforceable in California, for now.  The law was set to go into effect on January 1, 2020, but is now on hold until the judge makes a final decision on the merits, or the preliminary injunction order is appealed to the Ninth Circuit and, possibly, to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Either way, this issue is not likely to be resolved by the end of this year. 

Gerald Sauer in Law 360: Arbitration Is A Flawed Forum That Needs Repair

Arbitration Is A Flawed Forum That Needs Repair

by Gerald Sauer

Arbitration has become a hot-button issue. In September, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal, or FAIR, Act,[1] intended to ban mandatory arbitration in the workplace, and California enacted A.B. 51,[2] the latest state effort to protect workers from forced arbitration.

The Economic Policy Institute and the Center for Popular Democracy
predict that by 2024, almost 83% of the country’s private, nonunionized
employees will be subject to mandatory arbitration, an increase of 56%
since 2017.

Read full story on Law360


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