Most of the California Wage Orders say that: “All working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.” The problem with that requirement is that no one knows how to define “suitable seats,” “nature of work,” and “reasonably permits.”
As we wrote in March 2014, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal had some suitable seating class action cases when it asked the California Supreme Court to clarify what those terms mean. Then last week, as reported in Law360 (subscription), the California Supreme Court invited the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to file by August 21, 2015 an amicus brief expressing its view on how to define those terms. After that, the parties will have 20 days to respond.
The only thing that’s remotely close to clear at this point is that California employers are facing class action exposure for not following a law that no one knows how to follow. Employers who don’t provide seats for employees should consider doing so if it’s feasible given the job and work environment. On the other hand, given studies showing that sitting is bad for you, it’s may be just a matter of time before employees start suing employers for making them sit.