A recent California Supreme Court decision has the potential to affect all California employees who are required to stand while performing parts of their job. In response to numerous lawsuits brought by cashiers, retail employees, bank tellers and other employees, the California Supreme Court clarified the meaning of a decades-old law that requires employers to provide their employees with “suitable seats” when the nature of the work permits it. The Court rejected the interpretation favored by employers—creating instead an interpretation that will make it more difficult for employers to deny their employees a seat.
As a result of this decision, California companies must give careful consideration to whether their employees can perform any of their tasks while sitting. Employers who fail to provide seats when the nature of the work would reasonably permit their use face significant penalties.
Suitable Seating Laws
Different variations of seating laws have been in place in California since 1911. The current language dates back to 1976, when the Industrial Welfare Commission modified a wage order to require that “all working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.” The wage order also requires that “when employees are not engaged in the active duties of their employment and the nature of the work requires standing, an adequate number of suitable seats shall be placed in reasonable proximity to the work area and employees shall be permitted to use such seats when it does not interfere with the performance of their duties.”
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