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Can't Stand It

November 8, 2012

Are there any laws that protect workers who are required to stand all day? For example, I noticed that the pharmacists at a large chain drug store aren't allowed to sit at their computers and must stand all day. I asked some of the workers about it, and they said that they end up suffering leg pain as a result. Do OSHA standards apply here? Can anything be done about it? It seems as if this would be an issue that would affect a lot of other workers in the service industry, such as those who work in hair salons.

— Anthony, New York


Check this out—when it comes to making employees stand all day, here’s one boss who went off the deep end.

In general, there is no law against requiring employees to stand through their entire shifts.  California, at least, is an exception, and requires employers in some industries to provide “suitable seats” when “the nature of the work permits the use of seats” or for use when sitting does not interfere with the performance of the employee’s duty.  Also, if an employee had a qualifying disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act that prevented him or her from standing all day, allowing that employee to sit would likely (depending on the nature of the work) be considered a reasonable accommodation that the employer would have to provide.

But it just may be time to stand up, anyway—or at least to stand together. Just because it’s not a law on the books doesn’t mean that some kind of accommodation can’t be made. My recommendation to these pharmacy workers would be to get together and talk about it (outside of work first). Find out how many people want to see this addressed. Do some research—what are the accommodations at other pharmacies, at similar service jobs, etc.? Then, approach the boss with some recommendations—together.