A popular wage and hour claim surrounds employee seating at retail stores. In California, employees required to stand for extended periods at work may be able to sue their employers if they can prove the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats. However, what constitutes “nature of work” and “reasonably” are not clearly defined.
Retail stores, like CVS Pharmacy and Kmart, have been sued for failing to provide suitable seating to its employees. In the case against Kmart, employees recommended a reconfiguration of their work station so adequate seating could be provided. The court rejected this proposal but endorsed a “lean-stool,” which would allow employees to learn while working and move from a leaning to a standing position with ease.
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Kmart strongly argued against the seating claim pointing to customer service. Kmart stated, “its cashiers should be required to stand to project a ready-to-assist attitude to the customers waiting in line, all of whom are already standing.” Finding this argument persuasive, the court held “where an employer requires its employee to stand for good customer service and relations (with appropriate rest breaks), then this should be permitted so long as the rationale is genuine and grounded in reason.”
This is certainly not the end of the seating battles. As courts continue to weigh in on this front, employees should take a “seat” until more guidance is provided by the courts on this issue.