May It Please The Court

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Quote of the Day - A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy? - Albert Einstein
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Must California Businesses Provide Seats For Employees?

Cubicle workers can't imagine standing all day long at their job, but many bank tellers, shelf stockers, assembly line workers and a host of other employees do. Apparently, howver, some of those employees are tired of standing. Workers from CVS and JP Morgan Chase Bank sued their employers in federal court over a California law that requires employers to provide seats.  Here are the parts of the law that are at issue:

If the tasks being performed at a given location reasonably permit sitting, and provision of a seat would not interfere with performance of any other tasks that may require standing, a seat is called for…. The inquiry does not turn on the individual assignments given to each employee, but on consideration of the overall job duties performed at the particular location by any employee while working there, and whether those tasks reasonably permit seated work.

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.  

Wage Order No. 7-2001, §§ 14(A) and (B) .

The federal courts didn't know how the California Supreme Court would rule, so they asked.  California rejected the federal court's attempt to treat the issue holistically, and instead ruled that the inquiry turns on the tasks the employee is performing.  Here's what the Court said:

If the tasks being performed at a given location reasonably permit sitting, and provision of a seat would not interfere with performance of any other tasks that may require standing, a seat is called for…. The inquiry does not turn on the individual assignments given to each employee, but on consideration of the overall job duties performed at the particular location by any employee while working there, and whether those tasks reasonably permit seated work.

In other words, if an employee can sit, then sit.  The employer must provide the seat.  The lesson for employers is simple:   get some chairs and avoid a class-action lawsuit.  

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, April 05, 2016 at 11:32 Comments (0)


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