California Suitable Seating Law | Employment Rights Law Firm

Sep 10, 2019
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Dead on Your Feet? The California Supreme Court May Soon Let You Take a Seat

Compared to those of our grandparents, the lives we lead today seem downright sedentary. But while today’s work environment is often less physically strenuous that in years past, it doesn’t necessarily follow that today’s jobs are free from fatiguing physiological stress and strain. One often-overlooked source of job stress is standing. But the good news is that under California labor laws, employees may not have to “stand” for it at all: Employee rights in California include the right to “suitable seating,” and the California Supreme Court will be weighing in soon as to when your boss has to let you take a seat.

The Hazards of Standing Too Much

Standing erect in one spot all day can be tedious and exhausting, especially standing on hard concrete or tile floors. Worse, spending most of the work day standing can increase the risk of health problems such as varicose veins, damage to joints, foot trouble, complications with pregnancy, swelling in the lower extremities, trouble with the heart trouble and poor circulation.

What California Law Says About Sitting at Work

California employment law requires employers to take steps to avoid or reduce these problems.  Specifically, Wage Order 4-2001 and Wage Order 7-2001 require employers to provide their employees with a suitable place to sit “when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.”  When work does require standing, employers are required to make seats available in “reasonable proximity to the work area” and they must let their employees use them when it does not interfere with their duties.

 

The Courts Will Soon Weigh In

What does all this mean? In July of this year, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asked the California Supreme Court  to answer that question. The California court, in turn, has asked the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to weigh in. The 9th Circuit sought the advice of California authorities as part of ongoing litigation in the cases of Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy and Kemah Henderson et. al. v. JPMorgan Chase Bank. Both cases were brought as class action suits, and the plaintiffs appealed to the 9th Circuit after certification of their classes was denied at the trial court. In both the cases, CVS and JPMorgan argue for a “holistic” approach to interpreting the seating mandates that would take into account a range of factors, while the plaintiffs argue simply that if the task of the job can be performed while seated, then the employer must provide seats.

Do You Need Help With Access to Suitable Seating at Work?

However these cases turn out, employers will still have to provide access to “suitable seating” to many, if not most, of their employees, and employers and employees will continue to disagree about when it makes sense for employees to sit while working. Sometimes employees will need the assistance of attorneys to work out these issues out with their employers

If you are suffering due to excessive standing on the job, or struggling with other uncomfortable, unsafe, or unhealthy workplace conditions, contact Potter Handy, LLP for a consultation today!

Potter Handy, LLP does not handle workers compensation claims or appeals, unemployment compensation claims or appeals, state disability or social security benefits.

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