In Bright v. 99¢ Only Stores (case no. B220016), the California Court of Appeal held that a cashier could recover civil penalties when her employer failed to provide her suitable seating as required by Wage Order No.7-2001, subdivision 14 (requiring that employers provide employees with seating where the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats). Wage Order 7 applies to the Mercantile Industry, i.e., any industry, business, or establishment operated for the purpose of purchasing, selling, or distributing goods or commodities at wholesale or retail; or for the purpose of renting goods or commodities.
The court reasoned that civil penalties were recoverable for violation of the wage order because the California Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 ("PAGA") specifically allows for recovery of civil penalties when no other applicable code provisions provide a civil penalty.
In light of this decision, California employers in the Mercantile Industry should provide suitable seating (e.g., a stool behind a register/counter) to employees where the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats. California employers should also be aware that they may now be subject to civil penalties under PAGA for violations of other wage orders as well.