Sitting down on the job: the lawsuit
Two recent court cases in California, one involving Home Depot and the other 99 Cents Only Stores, have given employees the right to sue their employers for “suitable seating,” according to summaries of the cases published in Mondaq.
The judicial rulings, issued by the Second District Court of Appeal, allow employees to seek monetary remedies for violations of the Industrial Wage Commission (IWC) orders. These labor codes generally govern minimum wage and overtime requirements but can address other working conditions.
IWC Wage Order 7-2001 states that all working employees "shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.”
In the 99 Cents Only case, a cashier brought a class action suit alleging that the stores failed to provide its cashiers with suitable seating in violation of the labor code. She ultimately won at the Court of Appeal. Her employer asked the California Supreme Court to review the decision, but the petition was denied on Feb. 16, 2011.
In Home Depot vs. Harris, employees of Home Depot filed a lawsuit alleging Home Depot failed to provide seats for employees as required by the Labor Code. Based on the 99 Cent Store case, the Court of Appeal ruled in favor of the employees and their right to monetary remedies. Home Depot is seeking a Supreme Court review, but the high court has already turned down a similar case.
Both the 99 Cents Only and Home Depot decisions will now allow employees to pursue civil penalties when employers do not meet the “suitable seating” standard. Non-compliance can now trigger $100 for the initial violation and $200 for each pay period where the violation continues for each and every employee who is not provided with suitable seating. Employers can also be sued for attorney’s fees.