Friday, January 11, 2013

Suitable Seating -- Another Stupid California Law

Did you know that the California wage orders contains a provision entitled "Seats"?  Have you ever bothered to read it?  Whether or not you have, lawyers have and they think they can make a lot of money on the suitable seating requirement. 

The provision reads:  "All working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats."  So what's wrong with this provision?  It requires seats when it is reasonable to do so.  What kind of standard is that?  Who decides when seating would be reasonable?  What are the factors to consider when determining reasonableness? 

A Kmart in Delano was sued in a class action lawsuit.  The lawyers contended that it was reasonable to permit seating for all cashiers.  Kmart argued that seating would require substantial and unwarranted modification to all of the cashier booths.  In addition, the store argued that cashiers sitting would interfere with prompt and efficient customer service. 

A federal court judge ruled in Kmart's favor ... sort of.  He concluded that Kmart had a legitimate rationale for having cashiers stand.  However, he also said that the plaintiffs' attorney had not sufficiently developed the argument for a lean stool.  What's that?  It's a one-legged stool with a base so that it does not fall over when the seat is unoccupied.  Google it to see a few photos. 

I anticipate that the plaintiffs' attorneys will press forward with other cases for other stores and develop the lean stool argument.  More litigation.  More costs.  Thanks California for making it so difficult to do business in this state. 

What does this mean to you?  If you have positions that could, in your employee's opinion, be done on a seat, you better consider allowing a seat.  You don't want to be the next target for a suitable seating lawsuit. 

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