Avoiding compliance issues regarding “suitable seating” requirements

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2022 | employment law

While it might often feel that employers and employees struggle to navigate a disconnect between professionalism and avoiding injury, numerous laws exist to provide guidance in these matters. For some employers, the change in worker presentation could come as a shock, but it is crucial to maintain compliance to prevent complex legal matters in the future.

The California Supreme Court has ruled that employers cannot refuse a worker a place to sit simply because they’d prefer the employee stand while on shift. The unanimous decision stemmed from a class-action lawsuit brought by cashiers at CVS and tellers at JP Morgan Chase Bank. These employees suffered workplace injuries due to prolonged standing. The California Supreme Court ruling provides clarity in numerous gray areas that might otherwise trip up well-meaning employers.

How can confusion arise?

The named defendants contended that the workers were not tasked with standing in one spot for the entirety of their shift. They would walk around, stock shelves, greet clients and other job responsibilities. Since the employee was regularly on the move, no seat was required at the teller station or cash register. The court disagreed, however, providing clarity in the sense that the employer must appraise each task as a separate entity. Moving to stock shelves, to expand the example, would not require a suitable place to sit but standing behind the cash register for a length of time would.

Risking noncompliance in this matter can open an employer up to numerous levels of legal challenges. Employers must carefully evaluate the workplace to identify workstations that should include a suitable place to sit down. From greeters and tellers to cashiers and data entry, employers must ensure they are on the right side of the California Supreme Court ruling. With complicated questions, it is wise to seek the guidance of an experienced legal professional who can provide insight designed to ensure employers are compliant with California’s strict legal guidelines.