Kmart won a trial this week in federal court over claims that it failed to provide seats for its cashiers. Still, there’s no reason to think that this issue is going away.

As we’ve noted before, California’s Wage Orders require that "all working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats . . . ."

In Garvey v. Kmart, cashiers brought a class action claiming that the company violated this requirement. A one-week bench trial concerning cashiers at one Kmart store concluded this week.The judge ruled two days ago that Kmart had legitimate grounds for requiring its cashiers to stand — namely, "to project a ready-to-assist attitude to customers waiting in line, all of whom are already standing." Standing cashiers were also more mobile and efficient. 

But like all silver linings, this one has a big cloud in the middle. While rejecting the plaintiff’s proposal that they be fully seated, the court wondered aloud (or rather, in writing) whether a different modification — something called a lean-stool — might be an acceptable alternative.

Never heard of a lean-stool? Me neither. According to the court, "rigid lean-stools allow an individual to place most of their weight on a supported seat, while remaining in a more upright, leaning position." Because the issue of lean-stools wasn’t pursued by the plaintiffs, the court found for Kmart. But don’t expect plaintiffs to overlook this argument in future cases. Here’s a copy of the decision (pdf).

Two takeaways:

  1. "Suitable seating" litigation isn’t going away.
  2. Rush out and buy stock in "lean-stool" manufacturers!