Schwartz, Steinsapir, Dohrmann & Sommers

Our History


Our firm has represented employees, private and public sector labor unions, and employee benefit plans for more than 60 years. We have established a national reputation for excellence based upon our breadth and depth of experience, vigorous representation of clients, and extraordinary results.

Much has changed since our firm began: we represent a growing number of public and private sector benefit funds in a wide range of industries and fields, as well as plaintiffs in class actions, non-profit entities, and executive employees. We have also taken on new challenges, helping our clients draft and defend living wage ordinances, fight defunding of public pension plans, and navigate the myriad rules governing state and federal elections.

Most of our work, of course, does not generate headlines. But in addition to the day-to-day assistance that we provide our clients and the victories that we have won for them, we have also established important principles of law in a number of cases. The following are some examples of those cases:

• Alch v. Superior Court (Time Warner Entertainment, et al.), 122 Cal.App.4th 339 (2004) (representing television writers on claims of classwide age discrimination)

• Amalgamated Clothing & Textile Workers Union v. Murdock, 861 F.2d 1406 (9th Cir. 1988) (preventing the new owner from raiding pension benefits to fund his takeover of other companies)

• Block v. City of Los Angeles, 253 F.3d 410 (9th Cir. 2001) (awarding overtime pay to hundreds of city employees who were subject to partial week suspensions)

• California Grocers Ass’n v. City of Los Angeles, 52 Cal.4th 177 (2011) (defending Los Angeles’ Grocery Worker Retention Ordinance from preemption and equal protection challenges)

• California Teachers Ass’n v. Cory, 155 Cal.App.3d 494 (1984) (compelling the State of California to budget hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the state teachers’ retirement fund)

• Federated Dept. Stores v. United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 1442, 901 F.2d 1494 (9th Cir. 1990) (upholding an arbitration award that held that a fair investigation was a fundamental requirement under a just cause clause)

• Los Angeles Dep’t of Water & Power v. Manhart, 435 U.S. 702 (1978) (challenging the City’s violation of Title VII by providing unequal pension benefits to male and female workers)

• NLRB v. Advanced Stretchforming Int’l, Inc., 233 F.3d 1176 (9th Cir. 2000) (undoing cuts in workers’ wages and benefits by successor employer who told employees there would be “no union, no seniority, no nothing”)

• Ruggles v. California Polytechnic University, 797 F.2d 782 (9th Cir. 1986) (winning reinstatement into tenure-track position for professor terminated because of her complaints of sex discrimination)

• Santa Monica Culinary Welfare Fund v. Miramar Hotel Corp., 920 F.2d 1491 (9th Cir. 1990) (strengthening right of benefit plan to audit payroll records of employer despite provisions of collective bargaining agreement that limited plan’s right to audit)

• United Food & Commercial Workers Union v. Superior Court, 83 Cal.App.4th 566 (2000) (defeating employer’s claim for injunctive relief against union picketing under California’s “Little Norris-LaGuardia Act”)

Members of the firm are rated “AV” by Martindale-Hubbell, the Principal Law Directory of Attorneys in the United States. The “AV” rating, awarded to attorneys upon recommendation by their peers, is the highest rating obtainable, reflecting the highest levels of professional skill and integrity.