Suitable seating lawsuits are becoming increasingly common as class-action litigation and will likely be the next major wave of lawsuits the restaurant industry will face.
The suits are likely to affect quickservice and fast-casual restaurants where its most common to have employees posted at a register or POS system, taking orders. A previous ruling involving K-Mart that set legal precedent for these cases stated that employee efficiency could be taken into consideration.
What this means is that if an employee is rendered less efficient or in some way unsafe by having a stool at their workstation, the suit could be dismissed. But it is up to the restaurant to demonstrate examples in this well in advance of any pending litigation.
If the operator can show that an employee will significantly slow the pace of customer service by sitting down and getting up over the course of the workday, this evidence will help with any future cases on the matter.
It is recommended that anyone faced with this type of class-action suit deal with a law firm with class-action experience, as the ramifications from the rulings could effect many positions within an operation.
Legal Center Live is a video series answering commonly asked legal questions affecting California restaurant operators. The CRA Legal Center provides CRA members with access to attorneys across the state who specialize in issues affecting restaurant operators. To ask a question, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.