Employers, you may want to take a seat for this… Recently, the Supreme Court of California ruled that under Industrial Welfare Commission Wage Order No. 7-2001, “all working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.” The court held that employers must examine the nature of employees’ tasks at each location where they perform work and determine whether the nature of the work at that location reasonably permits use of a seat. Failure to do so, and failure to provide an employee with a seat where work could be performed while sitting, could land you in legal hot water in the form of a class action lawsuit.
In the case recently ruled upon by the California Supreme Court, the employees argued that their employment as stock clerks, cashiers, and bank tellers required their employers to provide them with seating even though many of their daily duties required them to stand.
One of the questions the Court answered was whether the phrase “nature of the work” refers to individual tasks performed throughout the workday, or to the entire range of an employee’s duties performed during a given day. In answering, the Court held that when deciding whether it is reasonable to provide an employee with a seat, the employer must look at the tasks performed at a given location within the jobsite during the workday and not the entire range of an employee’s duties anywhere on the jobsite during a complete shift. Indeed, per the Supreme Court, “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.”
Additionally, the determination of whether a seat is reasonable requires an objective analysis of the nature of the work. Factors to consider include the employer’s business judgment and the physical layout of the workspace, and not include the physical characteristics of the individual employee.
For more information on how to address this update to California employment law and avoid a class action lawsuit, contact experienced business attorney Drew E. Pomerance today.