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Are You Sitting Down for This? California Courtroom of Attraction Offers Additional Steerage on Appropriate Seating Claims

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The California Courtroom of Attraction in Meda v. AutoZone, Inc. lately reversed a trial courtroom’s discovering that an employer demonstrated it “offered” seats to its workers as a matter of legislation beneath California’s appropriate seating requirement. This rule stems from subdivision 14(A) of the Wage Orders,[1] which gives that California employers should present appropriate seats to workers “when the character of the work moderately permits using seats.” In Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., 63 Cal. 4th 1 (2016), the California Supreme Courtroom set forth the fact-intensive framework and a number of elements in analyzing whether or not the “nature of the work moderately permits using seat,” triggering the employer’s obligation to offer appropriate seats. Nonetheless, no revealed California authority had thought-about what steps employers should take to “present” seats beneath subdivision 14(A).[2]

On July 19, 2022, in Meda v. AutoZone, the Courtroom of Attraction grappled with the difficulty, and finally made clear that even the place an employer makes seats obtainable, the inquiry whether or not an employer “offered” appropriate seats could also be fact-intensive and contain a large number of job- and workplace-specific elements. 

Background of Meda v. AutoZone, Inc.

Meda, a former gross sales affiliate who labored at an AutoZone retailer operated by AutoZoners, asserted one reason behind motion beneath the California Non-public Attorneys Normal Act (PAGA), alleging that AutoZoners failed to offer appropriate seating to its workers on the components counter and cashier station in violation of subdivision 14(A) of Wage Order 7. AutoZoners moved for abstract judgment on the grounds that Meda was not “aggrieved” as a result of there have been chairs obtainable to Meda always. AutoZoners’ said coverage was to make two raised chairs obtainable to any worker that wanted or needed one. The Los Angeles Superior Courtroom interpreted “present” to imply “make obtainable,” and, on that foundation, concluded that AutoZoners happy its requirement to “present” seating beneath the Wage Order. 

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The Courtroom of Attraction’s Resolution

On enchantment, the Courtroom of Attraction reversed the trial courtroom’s entry of abstract judgment in favor of the employer. Meda argued that though her retailer was usually staffed by 5 to 9 workers, solely two raised chairs had been obtainable on-site. Furthermore, each chairs had been usually positioned close to the supervisor’s station space of the shop, and had been separated and never seen from the cashier and components counter. And regardless of the said coverage to make chairs obtainable, AutoZoners didn’t embody this coverage in its basic worker handbook or supply worker coaching on its seating coverage. Considerably, though she admitted that nobody informed her she couldn’t use the seats, Meda testified she was unaware she may use a raised chair on the entrance counter stations and by no means noticed one other worker use one.

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In its revealed determination, the Courtroom expressly declined to undertake a rule requiring that employers place a seat at each workstation to be able to adjust to the Wage Order, as “that won’t all the time be possible given the actual traits of a workspace.” However the place the employer doesn’t place a seat on the workstation, a seat’s proximity to the workspace and accessibility is related within the evaluation of whether or not seats are “offered,” notably the place the workers should not suggested that seats can be found in a written coverage or coaching. To make use of a seat, in accordance with the Courtroom, workers had “to depart the entrance counter workstations, proceed down a brief hallway and round a nook into the supervisor’s work space—and out of buyer view—to find, after which transfer, one of many raised chairs to the entrance counter.” Workers may additionally “really feel uncomfortable taking a chair from the supervisor’s space for their very own use in one other location.” Despite the fact that the employer demonstrated that it made seats obtainable, beneath these circumstances there have been enough factual disputes to preclude abstract judgment relating to whether or not appropriate seats had been “offered.”

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Takeaway

Whereas the Courtroom of Attraction in AutoZone was cautious to not undertake any arduous and quick guidelines, it does present some steering on what it means to “present” appropriate seats. To maximise probabilities of compliance, employers ought to seek the advice of with their Sheppard Mullin attorneys relating to whether or not to revise their seating insurance policies and practices in gentle of this determination.

FOOTNOTES

[1] All Wage Orders, besides Wage Order 17 (which applies to miscellaneous workers not coated by one other Wage Order) comprise a seating requirement.

[2] We beforehand mentioned the restricted steering the place the character of the work requires standing beneath subdivision 14(B), on inserting seats close to the work space to be used throughout lulls within the job duties in LaFace v. Ralphs Grocery Firm

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