Recent California Case May Cause Employers to Rethink How They Provide Employees with Suitable Seating
August 25, 2022 • Christina Tantoy
Category: Legal Updates
Most California employers understand that they are required to provide suitable seating to employees when the nature of their work reasonably permits the use of seats. However, a California Court only recently opined on specifically what it means to “provide” suitable seating. In July of 2022, in Meda v. AutoZone, an Appellate Court ruled that employers may need to do more than simply have seats available in the workplace.
Under most California Wage Orders, employers are required to provide suitable seating for employees whose job duties require them to stand as follows:
(A) Provide all working employees suitable seating when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats; and
(B) When an employee is not engaged in the active duties or their employment, provide an adequate number of seats in reasonable proximity to their work area and allow employees to use such seats when it does not interfere with the performance of their duties use.
In Meda v. AutoZone, the AutoZone employees were forced to leave their front counter workstations, proceed down a short hallway and around a corner into the manager’s work area—and out of customer view—to locate, and then move, one of the raised chairs to the front counter. The Court reasoned that the distant location of these chairs was enough to create a dispute of fact as to whether AutoZone sufficiently “provided” suitable seating as required in the Wage Order. The Court did not make any ruling that clarifies what it means to provide suitable seating in this circumstance. Rather, it leaves that question to the uncertainty of a jury determination.
*What does this mean for you? *
Employers should consider having seats located close to an employee’s workstation or, at the least, in an area visible to the employees. Employers also should, at the minimum, advise employees through a written policy or verbally during meetings where the seats are located and that employees are expected to use such seats if/when they are not performing their active job duties.
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THIS DOCUMENT PROVIDES A GENERAL SUMMARY AND IS FOR INFORMATIONAL/EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO BE COMPREHENSIVE, NOR DOES IT CONSTITUTE LEGAL ADVICE. PLEASE CONSULT WITH COUNSEL BEFORE TAKING OR REFRAINING FROM TAKING ANY ACTION.
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