The California Supreme Court [official website] ruled [opinion, PDF] Monday that employees who can do their jobs while seated are entitled to a place to sit. The court held [SFGate report] in a 7-0 ruling that “if the tasks being performed at a given location reasonably permit sitting, and provision of a seat would not interfere with performance of any other tasks that may require standing, a seat is called for.” The court interpreted California law in this matter at the request of the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website], which is considering employee suits against CVS, Chase Bank and Wal-Mart [corporate websites]. Justice Carol Corrigan wrote in the court’s opinion that “there is no principled reason for denying an employee a seat when he spends a substantial part of his workday at a single location performing tasks that could reasonably be done while seated, merely because his job duties include other tasks that must be done standing.” The court reasoned that whether a worker is entitled to a seat depends on the totality of circumstances, such as whether the task can be performed from a chair, whether sitting would interfere with job performance and whether the physical layout of the work space permits the use of a chair. The decision will allow positions such as cashiers and bank tellers among others, to be seated for at least a portion of their day. Now that the California Supreme Court has ruled in this matter, it is expected that the Ninth Circuit will resolves over a dozen similar cases within the state.
The right of an employee to sit in certain situations is another instance of the growing national debate and standards on employment issues. In February the Ninth Circuit ruled [JURIST report] that employers may no longer collect tips from service employees and share them with support staffed even if the tipped employees are receiving minimum wage. Earlier that month Oregon legislature approved a law creating the highest minimum wage [JURIST report] in the country. Also in February West Virginia became the twenty-sixth state to pass a right-to-work law, barring employers [JURIST report] from requiring that their employees pay union fees. In 2015 US President Barack Obama issued an executive order [JURIST report] requiring federal contractors to provide sick leave to employees.