Employers can celebrate a common-sense win for suitable seating PAGA claims—store greeters generally do not need to be provided seating. Last week, a California Superior Court held that even though significant job tasks of greeters require standing (or are done best while standing) and the “majority of tasks performed by greeters can be done while seated,” practical business concerns outweighed the necessity of seating. Accordingly, the Court held that the defendant-employer was not required to provide seating to its store greeters.
The Court applied the familiar Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy factors by reviewing the “totality of the circumstances” of: (1) the nature of the work; (2) the feasibility of seating; (3) the workplace layout; and (4) the business judgment of the employer to determine whether seating for greeters was required. In analyzing these factors, the court made several employer-friendly findings. First, even though greeter’s duties could be performed more while seated, the court acknowledged the importance of the standing-only tasks to the defendant’s business. Second, the court emphasized that adding seating in the entryway to the store could endanger the safety of the greeters. Third, the court gave “significant weight” to the defendant-employer’s “good-faith business decision” that standing greeters provided better customer service than seated greeters. In ruling for the defendant, the court provided useful analytical tools to employers and recognized practical business concerns.
While it is likely too much to hope practical business decision making will percolate outside of this narrow issue, employers should revel in this PAGA victory (especially given that so much about PAGA makes no sense).
Regardless, employers should continue to evaluate potential suitable seating issues in the workplace, while taking the court’s employee-friendly analysis into account.