Failure To Provide Seats To Employees Class Action Lawsuits Start To Roll In

As we reported here, the California Court of Appeal recently issued a decision holding that an "aggrieved" employee can seek against his or her current or former employer penalties under the California Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 penalties for failing to provide to employees as required by an applicable Industrial Welfare Commission ("IWC") wage order. Specifically, In Home Depot U.S.A., v. Superior Court, which also involved the provisions of Wage Order 7-2001 stating the all working employees “shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits” such use, the California Court of Appeal again held PAGA penalties can be awarded for violations of IWC wage orders. In so holding, the court rejected Home Depot's contention that PAGA penalties are not available for violation of the wage order because PAGA penalties are available for violations of the Labor Code "except those for which a civil penalty is specifically provided," and the wage order contains its own civil penalty provisions (in lesser amounts than those provided by PAGA). In response to that argument, the court held Wage Order 7-2001 does not specifically provide a civil penalty for violation of the wage order's seating requirements. Further, the court noted that the civil penalty provision of the wage order states its penalties are "'[i]n addition to any other civil penalties provided by law,'" which the court interprets to mean the the wage order "does not purport to establish a comprehensive scheme of penalties for violations of the wage order."

Today, plaintiff attorneys filed in the Los Angeles County Superior Court three class action lawsuits against major retailers seeking seeking PAGA penalties for alleged failure to provide to employees seats as required by IWC Wage Order 7-2001. Unfortunately, we expect many more such class actions will follow.

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