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Kunaal Sharma, Home Depot Greeter, Sues Store For Failing To Provide Chair

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A former greeter at a Home Depot store in East Palo Alto, Calif., has filed a class-action lawsuit against the corporation claiming his employer violated state labor law by not providing him a chair to sit in while he met customers at the front of the store, KLIV News reports.

Kunaal Sharma is seeking damages on behalf of all Home Depot greeters who were denied seating from Feb. 2011 to the present, according to the suit filed on April 11.

"There is no reason why that work can't be accomplished from a nice ergonomically designed chair or stool with their feet up but these companies feel the employees cannot give top-level customer service," attorney Matthew Righetti told the San Mateo Daily Journal.

Righetti, who has filed a number of class action lawsuits on behalf of chain store employees in the past, told the Daily Journal that he did not know whether Sharma had actually asked management for a seat and had been denied his request. But he said that was immaterial under the state's current labor laws.

According to Section 14 of the Industrial Welfare Commission ("IWC") Wage Order 7-2001:

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.

The Associated Press reported that, until recently, the "Seats" Wage Order was an obscure California wage provision seldom referenced in courts. But over the past few years, attorneys across the state have unearthed the code in order to file class-action lawsuits against corporations on behalf of employees.

"We are really in unchartered waters," Eric Steinert, an attorney who represents several of the retailers, told the AP. "But there's no doubt there's a wave of lawsuits being filed. You are seeing some attorneys moving into this area who previously didn't pay attention to workplace issues."

In 2010, greeters at a Home Depot in Los Angeles filed such a lawsuit against the store for failing to provide seating, the Recorder reported.

Attorneys representing the chain argued that the Industrial Welfare Commission's Wage Order only gave recommendations for how companies should handle seating, and that the provision was not mandatory. But a Second District Court of Appeal panel dismissed that claim and ordered the store to pay claimants $100 per violation and $200 for each additional violation during the pay period claimed in the case.

Read the full Associated Press report for more on "Suitable Seating" lawsuits.