Celebrating Its 23rd Anniversary – S&W Promotes Three New Partners and Launches New Website

by Gerald Sauer

On the 23rd anniversary of its founding, Sauer & Wagner LLP is pleased to announce the promotion of Gregory Barchie, Amir Torkamani and Sonya Goodwin to Partner.  

Gregory Barchie has substantially litigated commercial, entertainment, real estate, employment, and intellectual property disputes in federal and state courts and in private arbitrations. Greg joined S&W in 2015 and has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, President of the “Out of Court” section of the Beverly Hills Bar Association, and President of the Southern California Business Litigation Inn of Court. He successfully defended a guarantor on a multi-million-dollar loan case involving the “sham guaranty” doctrine and prevailed on several anti-SLAPP motions including against claims for breach of contract/lease in an environmental contamination case, and fraud and intentional interference with economic advantage in a dispute between a borrower and mortgage loan brokers.

Amir Torkamani, who joined S&W in June 2012, focuses on commercial, entertainment, real estate, employment, and intellectual property litigation and has substantial experience handling jury and bench civil trials in federal and state courts, as well as litigating disputes in private arbitrations. He was recognized for obtaining one of the Top 100 Jury Verdicts in California in 2019 and was named a Rising Star by Southern California Super Lawyers in 2013 – 2018. Amir’s successes include the favorable settlement of a multi-million-dollar real estate dispute involving return of a substantial security deposit after the tenant had failed to pay rent and substantially damaged the property, as well as a commercial lease dispute involving a tenant facing eviction and substantial interruption of a machining and product development company.
Amir received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, both at the University of California, Berkeley. He earned his J.D. from the University of Southern California.

Sonya Goodwin joined S&W at the end of 2019. She has focused her practice exclusively in the employment arena, counseling both employers and employees in a wide variety of employment issues including wage and hour issues, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and breach of contract, as well as conducting investigations of workplace issues. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Beverly Hills Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Section.

Sonya earned her Bachelor of Arts degree, in history and international studies, from the University of California, San Diego. She attended UCLA School of Law, where she received her J.D.

S&W also released its redesigned website as part of the celebration of its 23rd anniversary. The website is located at www.swattys.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. 

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

by Gerald Sauer

The new year has brought with it many changes in the law that affect employers and employees in California.  One of those laws, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), became effective January 1, 2020 and will be enforced starting July 1, 2020.  The law, enacted in 2018, requires for-profit businesses (including most employers) to disclose to consumers (including employees) certain categories of data collected by the business and requires the deletion of data upon request by the consumer. 

Employers are exempt from some of the law’s provisions until January 1, 2021. Here is a guide to help employers determine if the CCPA applies to them and how it will impact their business in the next year:

What is a covered entity?

The CCPA applies to any for-profit business who meets these criteria:

Applicants, employees, and independent contractors have a right to request (1) that the business tell them what personal information it has collected, sold, or disclosed, and to whom; (2) that the business delete their personal information; (3) a copy of the information that has been collected, sold, or disclosed; and (4) to opt out of the sale of their personal information. Employees may not be retaliated against for exercising these rights.

  • Has annual gross revenues in excess of $25 million; OR
  • “Alone or in combination, annually buys, receives for the business’s commercial purposes, sells, or shares for commercial purposes, alone or in combination, the personal information of 50,000 or more consumers, households, or devices;” OR
  • “Derives 50 percent or more of its annual revenues from selling consumers’ personal information.”

A “consumer” is any “natural person who is a California resident,” which includes a “job applicant to, an employee of, owner of, director of, officer of, medical staff member of, or contractor of that business.”


How will this impact covered employers starting January 1, 2020?

  1. Covered employers must provide notice of the type of data collected from their employees and customers and the purpose of the collection. Data is defined broadly to include “professional or employment related information,” “education information,” “identifiers,” “characteristics of a protected category,” “biometric information,” “internet activity,” “inferences drawn regarding a consumer’s preferences, characteristics, psychological trends, predispositions, behavior, attitudes, intelligence, abilities, and aptitudes,” and “geolocation data.”
  2. A private right of action (on an individual or class-wide basis) allows recovery of statutory damages ranging from $100-$750 per employee per incident for any unauthorized disclosure or access to the data.
  3. Applicants, employees, and independent contractors have a right to request (1) that the business tell them what personal information it has collected, sold, or disclosed, and to whom; (2) that the business delete their personal information; (3) a copy of the information that has been collected, sold, or disclosed; and (4) to opt out of the sale of their personal information. Employees may not be retaliated against for exercising these rights.

Employers do not have to delete data that is maintained solely for internal uses reasonably in line with the purpose for which it was collected (i.e. human resources or other employment-related purposes), or if required to comply with a legal obligation. Given that California employment laws require maintenance of employment records for at least three or four years, the deletion will not be required for most applicant, employee, and independent contractor data otherwise subject to the CCPA’s protections. 

If you have any questions about compliance with the CCPA, please contact us.

Employment Law Update – California’s Prohibition Against Mandatory Arbitration Agreements Remains On Hold

by Gerald Sauer

Last Friday, a federal judge ordered that the temporary restraining order precluding the State of California from enforcing Assembly Bill 51 (“AB 51”), the new law that prohibits mandatory arbitration agreements in the employment context, shall remain in place for now.  The judge initially granted a temporary restraining order on December 30, 2019, just two days before the law was to go into effect.  In addition to extending the stay precluding implementation of the new law, the judge also ordered supplemental briefing to determine if the stay will remain in effect until she rules on the merits of whether the new law is preempted by the Federal Arbitration Act.  At this point, California’s new law remains in limbo, and a final resolution may not occur this year or longer depending upon how quickly it takes this dispute to wind its way through the federal judicial system.      

We will provide updates as the story progresses.  In the meantime, if you have any questions about this latest development, please contact us