Katherine Forster Analyzes Impact of ‘Suitable Seating’ Ruling on Employers

Munger, Tolles & Olson attorney Katherine M. Forster addressed the impact on employers of a California Supreme Court decision related to “suitable seating” requirements in a Daily Journal article published on April 8, 2016.

In Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, a class of employees claimed that employers should be required to provide a seat to any employee who has a work task that can be performed sitting down. Instead of ruling for the plaintiffs, Ms. Forster writes, the California Supreme Court held that employers should determine whether a seat is required by considering all of the job duties the employee performs at a particular workstation. Early commenters on the Kilby ruling indicated that it would have a significant impact on workplace seating practices. According to Ms. Forster, the likely impact of the ruling is more moderate.

As Ms. Forster explains, the ruling in Kilby, which looks to the totality of the circumstances to determine whether an employer should supply a seat for a worker who has some tasks that can be performed sitting down, seems largely to comport with common sense. Among other things, the analysis takes into account the employer’s business judgment, the physical layout of the workspace, the frequency of shifting between standing and seated tasks, and whether a seat would interfere with duties that require standing. Ms. Forster recommends that employers review their practices carefully to ensure they are in compliance with the Kilby ruling, but she says that the ruling itself shouldn’t mandate sweeping changes across the board for most employers.

Based in Munger Tolles’ Los Angeles office, Ms. Forster focuses her practice on employment law.