Walmart, Inc. has agreed to pay $65 million to end a class action suit with cashiers who claimed that the company violated a California wage order requiring businesses to give certain workers seating and breaks for jobs that require standing. While the company denied any wrongdoing, it said that it would begin providing seating to cashiers in California. If approved, the settlement will be the largest ever reached under the state’s Private Attorney General Act (PAGA).
In 2016, the California Supreme Court clarified that suitable seating requirements must be made even if only some tasks at a given workstation, rather than all tasks in a workday, can be done sitting down. Walmart had argued that the nature of cashiers’ work did not reasonably permit seating because tasks such scanning large items, viewing items at the bottom of a shopping cart, and bagging require standing.
To date, California businesses have paid about $35 million in suitable seating cases. Employers doing business in California should evaluate whether suitable seating requirements may apply to their workforce.