California Supreme Court Says Employers Should Provide a Seat

The California Supreme Court recently found that workers whose jobs can be done at least in part while sitting, should be forced to stand by their employer. Many employees will agree that fulfilling a job while standing can take its toll – particularly when discussing long term employment. The Supreme Court’s decision regarding suitable seating cases will allow employees to literally take a load off by requiring employers to give their workers chairs.

Bowlin, a member of the class action lawsuit against CVS, cited long term health issues due to standing (including varicose veins, etc.) The class action suitable seating lawsuit against CVS, popular pharmacy chain, is one of dozens filed throughout California in the last several years. All cite allegations against employers that require their employees to stand. The Supreme Court ruling was unanimous, clarifying labor law in a way that will make it fairly difficult for employers to deny their workers with a chair on the job.

Justice Carol A. Corrigan explained more regarding what employment situations fall into this category: when an employee spends a large part of the workday in a single spot completing job duties that can be done while sitting down (even if other job duties need to be completed in a standing position).

The “totality of the circumstances” determines whether or not a worker is entitled to have a seat on the job. This totality of circumstances consists of: whether a job duty can be completed from a sitting position, whether the seated employee would disrupt job performance, and the physical layout of the workplace and its suitability for seating. Having said that, the court also stated that employers should not design workspaces to “further a preference for standing” and that, in fact, employers should consider whether or not the workspace could be reasonably rearranged in order to accommodate a chair.

This clarification of employment law is expected to affect almost every industry across California. Employers will no longer be able to legally require employees to stand on the job all day in a fixed spot if the tasks required for the job can be completed while the employee is seated.

If you have questions regarding how this clarification of employment law will affect your workplace, please get in touch with the experienced southern California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug and Bhowmik.