Little-Known California Labor Law in Good Standing with Employees


Sacramento, CA A little-known California labor law appears to be causing a headache for retailers now having to look at a potentially new way to handle their employees - especially individuals working as counter staff and checkout technicians who spend the vast majority of their shift on their feet.

California labor code is said to be one of the most stringent in the US, governing everything from overtime computation to meal and rest breaks. It's the latter that retail employees, or those who spend an inordinate part of their day on their feet, come to rely on for relief from standing.

However, according to a recent report by the Associated Press (AP) that was carried earlier this month in the Washington Post, many retailers in the state of California - including such national chains as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target - are facing lawsuits alleging that plaintiffs are not afforded "suitable seating" for relief from standing.

According to the AP report, the obscure statute is known as the private attorney general provision and lurks in California labor employment law. Long since accustomed to standing for hours at a time, plaintiffs are now demanding the means by which to take a load off while they're at their workstation.

According to AP, a couple of recent appellate decisions have allowed for workers and their legal advisers to employ the private attorney general provision - which apparently opens the door for a complaint to management about lack of proper seating, according to provisions in California and labor law.

Observers have noted that major retailers could be facing millions of dollars in damages. A first violation reportedly carries a fine equaling $100 per employee per pay period. The penalty is said to be doubled for any subsequent violation.

Employees who work as checkout consultants in supermarkets have sometimes required special footwear due to the need to constantly stand while at their workstation. Others have experienced back problems due to the inability to take a load off their feet outside of designated break periods.

The private attorney general provision in California state labor laws apparently provides plaintiffs with a framework to try and effect change.

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