Two recent California cases clarify the requirement that employers provide seats for employees to use to sit down when on duty. These cases interpret section 14 of the Industrial Welfare Commission’s Wage Orders, which apply to most private employers. The law requires employers to provide all working employees with “suitable seats” when the nature of their work reasonably permits the use of seats. The wage order states, “When employees are not engaged in the active duties of their employment and the nature of the work requires standing, an adequate number of suitable seats shall be placed in reasonable proximity to the work area and employees shall be permitted to use such seats when it does not interfere with the performance of their duties.”
The cases involved the Home Depot and 99¢ Only retail stores. Class actions were filed by employees who worked in the cashier and counter areas of these stores. The court held the employees can recover monetary damages due to the employer’s failure to provide suitable seats.
Although these cases involved retail stores, most of the wage orders covering other businesses contain the same requirement to provide seating. Wage Order 17 (Miscellaneous Employees) does not have a provision for seats. Wage Order 14 (Agricultural Occupations) and Wage Order 16 (Construction, Drilling, Logging and Mining Industries) have provisions for seats that are more specific to their industries.
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