Safeway Settles Cashier ‘Seat’ Lawsuit

The $12 million settlement includes seats for checkout clerks at its California stores.

October 23, 2019

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Safeway has agreed to shell out $12 million and give 30,000 cashiers seats at its California stores under a settlement approved by a judge, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

In 2011, Eva Sharp, who worked as a cashier for a Safeway store in Santa Clara, filed a lawsuit claiming the grocery store chain’s failure to give checkout clerks chairs violated a state wage order. That Industrial Welfare Commission order stated that all retail business workers “shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.”

Sharp’s case had been temporary halted while the California Supreme Court heard a similar case involving JP Morgan Chase Bank, Walmart and CVS Pharmacy. In its decision on that 2016 case, the court unanimously ruled that workers should have seats when most of their work could be accomplished sitting down, in addition to having a seat during “lulls” in tasks that required standing up.

The Safeway settlement mandates that the chain give California checkout clerks “suitable seats” for at least two years, beginning in 2020. In 2022, Safeway could request an elimination or reduction of the seating mandate if the chain produced proof that it harmed employees or its business.