4 Work Place Amenities to Provide to Avoid Lawsuits

Workplace AmenitiesAt the end of 2010, two California court decisions established that employers could be sued for violations of the work place “conditions” set forth in the Industrial Welfare Commission Orders, even when earned wages are not at issue.  There are different Wage Orders for different industries, and it is not always obvious by their names to which industries they apply. For example, the hospitality industry, including food service and preparation staff, come under the “Public Housekkeeping Industry,” Order (Order No. 5-2001).  For this industry, such conditions include those set forth below.  The not well known seating requirement was at issue in the aforementioned lawsuits.  Thus, it would behoove employers of cashiers and other employees who must stand for lengthy periods of time to provide seating for such employees.

WAGE ORDER NO 5-2001: “. . . 13. CHANGE ROOMS AND RESTING FACILITIES
(A) Employers shall provide suitable lockers, closets, or equivalent for the safekeeping of employees’ outer clothing during working hours, and when required, for their work clothing during non-working hours. When the occupation requires a change of clothing, change rooms or equivalent space shall be provided in order that employees may change their clothing in reasonable privacy and comfort. These rooms or spaces may be adjacent to but shall be separate from toilet rooms and shall be kept clean.
NOTE: This section shall not apply to change rooms and storage facilities regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board.
(B) Suitable resting facilities shall be provided in an area separate from the toilet rooms and shall be available to employees during work hours.
14. SEATS
(A) All working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.
(B) When employees are not engaged in the active duties of their employment and the nature of the work requires standing, an adequate number of suitable seats shall be placed in reasonable proximity to the work area and employees shall be permitted to use such seats when it does not interfere with the performance of their duties.
15. TEMPERATURE
(A) The temperature maintained in each work area shall provide reasonable comfort consistent with industry-wide standards for the nature of the process and the work performed.
(B) If excessive heat or humidity is created by the work process, the employer shall take all feasible means to reduce such excessive heat or humidity to a degree providing reasonable comfort. Where the nature of the employment requires a temperature of less than 60° F.,
a heated room shall be provided to which employees may retire for warmth, and such room shall be maintained at not less than 68°.
(C) A temperature of not less than 68° shall be maintained in the toilet rooms, resting rooms, and change rooms during hours of use.
(D) Federal and State energy guidelines shall prevail over any conflicting provision of this section. 
16. ELEVATORS
Adequate elevator, escalator or similar service consistent with industry-wide standards for the nature of the process and the work performed shall be provided when employees are employed four floors or more above or below ground level. . . .”
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