California Court of Appeals Provides Guidance on Wage Order Seating Requirements
California Court of Appeals Provides Guidance on Wage Order Seating Requirements

Among other protections and rights, employees are entitled to the use of suitable seats when the “nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats” pursuant to the Industrial Welfare Commission’s Wage Orders. As recently as 2016, the California Supreme Court detailed a fact-intensive framework and multi-factor test to assist employers with the determination of when the nature of the work permits the use of seats.  However, the question of how to determine whether an employee was in fact “provided” suitable seating by his or her employer remained unresolved.

Recently, the California Court of Appeal in Meda v. AutoZone, Inc. addresses this issue and outlines how employers can be sure that they have complied with the Wage Order requirement. Specifically, the court deemed the following to be relevant criteria to determining if a suitable seat was provided:

  • The proximity of a seat to an employee’s workstation;
  • The employees’ access to suitable seating;
  • Whether the employer has advised its employees that seats are available for their use by either directly informing the employees or including the seating policy in its employee handbook;
  • Whether the seating is located in a particular location (such as in the area near a manager’s office) and whether the seating was intended for use in only that area;
  • Whether any other employees used seating in the areas in which the job duties were performed; and
  • Whether the employer prohibited or discouraged the use of seating in particular work areas.

These factors provide a helpful tool for employers to determine whether they are in compliance with California’s Wage Order seating requirements. As should be clear from the above, a written policy on seating is preferred over word of mouth. Further, and as with any other multi-factor test, an independent analysis should be undertaken based on the specific position in question.


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