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California Supreme Court Says Retail Workers Should Be Able to Sit Down

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A Young Female Grocery Store Clerk Sitting at a Cash Register

Are you a retail worker that is required to stand all day in your workplace?

If you are a retail worker, I probably don't need to tell you retail workers often suffer back pain, swollen feet and ankles, and other bodily aches as a result of their jobs—even if the position doesn’t require heavy lifting. These effects can all be caused by the physical strain of standing for long periods, damaging employees’ joints and bones and leading to missed days from work. But again, you probably sore feet, legs and back after working long hours already.

However, things may be changing for California workers who are required to stand for the entirety of their shifts. The California Supreme Court has recently ruled that workers should be allowed to sit during some or all of their workdays—a decision that could affect millions of employees.


California Supreme Court Rules Unanimously To Allow Retail Workers To Sit

Many companies require cashiers and customer service employees to stand, as allowing them to sit could make customers see the staff as lazy or inattentive. But the state Supreme Court disagrees, ruling that companies cannot force employees to stand all day if some job tasks can reasonably be performed while seated.

The ruling came in response to several class action lawsuits  which claimed that companies illegally  require retail workers to stand during their shifts. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals requested clarification of the labor code by the state Supreme Court, the court replied that California workers may be seated:

If work is not affected. Workers can be allowed to sit based on “the totality of the circumstances,” such as whether or not a chair impedes, prevents, or otherwise interferes with job performance.

If some tasks require standing. Employees should not be denied seats if they work in a single location, even if some tasks must be done while standing.

If the workspace permits. While the court allowed that the physical layout of the workspace will factor into whether or not a seat can be provided, it did rule that employers cannot purposely design work spaces to prohibit sitting or make standing preferable.

At the employer’s expense. Not only are employers expected to make reasonable changes to work spaces to accommodate seats, they are also required to provide the employees with proper chairs or stools.

The ruling may be clear to employees, but it could take a while before companies implement changes that allow workers to take a seat.


Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.

William Turley
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“When I seek out professional advice, I don’t want B.S., I want it straight up. I figure you do also.”
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