Workplace Seating Laws in California: A Guide
Workplace conditions play a significant role in your workplace well-being and productivity. This includes noise, air quality, lighting, and seating arrangements. Sitting accommodations may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your employee rights, but did you know that California law includes specifications for workplace seating? Workplace seating laws in California are a matter of legal obligation, not just employer courtesy, requiring employers to provide “suitable seating” when the nature of the work reasonably permits. This guide will break down your rights and California workplace seating laws, including special considerations for disabled employees. Contact us today!
What Is Suitable Seating?
California labor codes require employers to provide employees with “suitable seating” if their work and the location allow. Generally, suitable seating is a seating arrangement that doesn’t cause the worker unnecessary strain or discomfort. However, it can differ depending on specific job functions.
Courts provide a flexible interpretation of “suitable seating,” considering the employer’s business model, workflow, and overall work environment. For example, a cashier who primarily works at a counter may need a stool, while a warehouse employee’s duties may make it impossible to sit frequently. The suitable seating an employer must provide—for example, a stool, a chair, or a bench—also typically depends on the work environment. Since seating laws and requirements vary by labor code and occupation, consulting a skilled attorney can help clarify your rights and ensure your employer complies with their seating obligations.
What Are My Rights to Workplace Seating?
While determining what qualifies as appropriate seating can vary based on personal preferences, employers typically must provide employees with a pleasant and comfortable arrangement. You are entitled to suitable seating if your role is mainly stationary, like a cashier or desk-based job. But even when your job requires you to stand on your feet frequently, your employer must still consider reasonable seating periods.
No matter your position, you can confidently ask your employer for a seat. If your employer dismisses your concerns or fails to provide adequate seating, you can escalate the issue by filing a formal claim. This could trigger a state inspection and potentially result in employer penalties. It’s also important to know that employers cannot retaliate against you for asserting your rights under California workplace seating laws.
What Are Disabled Employee Rights to Suitable Seating?
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), employers must provide reasonable accommodations for disabled employees unless doing so would result in “undue hardship.” For seating, this means providing specialized ergonomic chairs or allowing more frequent sitting breaks. The ADA requires all employers to engage in a “good faith interactive process” to evaluate the needs of a disabled employee and determine the most appropriate accommodation.
What Can I Do to Protect My Seating Rights?
Understand Your Job Function
Before discussing seating with your employer, it’s essential to understand your job function. Remember, the law stipulates that employers provide suitable seating if the work “reasonably permits” it. Familiarize yourself with your job description, your responsibilities, and the job’s physical requirements. Knowing these details will help you assess whether your employer can reasonably accommodate a seating request.
If you’re sure that your job reasonably permits seating, your next step is to speak up. Don’t hesitate to have a dialogue with your supervisor or human resources department about your seating needs. Always frame your request within the context of the law—that employers in California are legally obligated to provide suitable seating where the work allows for it.
If your colleagues are in similar situations, consider approaching them to gauge their feelings about the issue. You can request their support when you speak to the employer or jointly raise the concern. If you need help approaching this issue, consulting a colleague or representative can offer additional insights or add weight to your request.
File a Lawsuit or Claim
Under California law, if your employer is unresponsive or dismisses your needs, you can file a lawsuit under the state’s Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). You can also file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if your employer fails to offer reasonable seating accommodations under the ADA.
Call Bibiyan Law Group, PC Today
Bibiyan Law Group, P.C.’s team approach combines open, honest, and compassionate communication and aggressive representation. We only practice employment law and have secured tens of millions of dollars in client settlements. But our efforts extend well beyond legal proceedings. Our goal is to transform the landscape of labor rights, establishing a just and unbiased work environment for everyone. You don’t have to fight alone if you struggle with workplace seating issues. Schedule a complimentary consultation now and let us help you. At Bibiyan Law Group, P.C., we back our words with actions.