Obscure California Labor Law used in to seek Damages in Class Action Lawsuit over 'Suitable Seating' for retail Employees
In a recent case regarding the violation of California’s labor law, one disgruntled employee of 99 cent Only Stores, filed a class action case against the retail chain, under the Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC). She argued that the company failed to provide her with “suitable seating,” which directly violates rules under the IWC, a seldom used law. The plaintiff also sought to receive damages under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA). PAGA allows employees to file lawsuits against their employer to collect fines on behalf of all current and past employees, whose grievances fall under the statute of limitations set by PAGA. In addition, the grievances must have occurred in the past year.
When brought to trial, the court rejected the claims of the disgruntled 99 cent Only Store employee. The court stated that since the plaintiff was not underpaid, the claims do not violate the IWC Wage Order. However, when brought back to The California Court of Appeal, the court decided to reinstate the claim. The claim was reinstated, because The California Labor Code combined labor conditions enforced by the IWC. They did so by concluding that by violating suitable seating requirements, retailers are violating IWC Wage Order requirements. The court results concluded that workers may collect civil legal fines under PAGA, when an employer fails to follow IWC requirements, including suitable seating.
Since the case decision was revealed, a trend of similar class action suits have been on the rise in California. These suits have involved national retail chains like, Home Depot and Wal-Mart. All chains involved have been suspected of “suitable seating” violations. Although it has only been national chains that have had claims filed against them so far, other California employers such as restaurants may become a target. If you find yourself in this type of case, you can trust the experts here to ensure justice is served.