Next Up for California Restaurants: Seats for Line Cooks?


Michael Kun, a Member of the Firm in the Labor and Employment practice, in the Los Angeles office, wrote an article titled "Next Up For California Restaurants: Seats For Line Cooks?" (Read the full article - subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Several years ago, employees in California began filing class action lawsuits against their employers alleging violations of the "suitable seating" provision buried in the state's Wage Orders. The unique provision requires some employers to provide "suitable seating" to some employees when the "nature of their work" would "reasonably permit it."

The use of multiple sets of quotation marks in the previous sentence should give readers a good idea just how little guidance employers have about the obscure law.

The California Supreme Court is now poised to explain what that obscure law means for those employers who do business in California. And the court's ruling could mean that restaurants in California will have to provide seats to hosts, hostesses and line cooks, or that hotels and other institutions will have to provide seats to their front-desk staffs.

A little history: The "suitable seating" provision was written to cover employees who normally worked in a seated position with equipment, machinery or other tools. For decades, it had been the subject of little litigation and even less discussion. But after a court of appeal decision brought the obscure law to the attention of plaintiffs lawyers in California, employers in a wide variety of industries have been hit with class actions alleging that they have not provided seats to their employees.