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State High Court May Require Sitting on the Job

In drugstores and banks in the Valley region, customers might start to see more employees sitting on the job as a result of the California Supreme Court’s recent ruling. In Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy Inc., the state high court looked at the state wage orders’ requirement that “all working employees shall be provided with suitable seats when the nature of the work reasonably permits the use of seats.” In its decision, the court determined that when evaluating if seats can be offered to employees, lower courts should look at each task performed at a specific location. “If the tasks being performed at a given location reasonably permit sitting, and provision of a seat would not interfere with performance of any other tasks that may require standing, a seat is called for,” the decision states. The decision could affect numerous San Fernando Valley retail locations, which have to reevaluate their employee seating standards based on the new guidelines. But some business advocates see it as another instance of unnecessary regulation. “We already have our own (city) laws and issues that other cities don’t have – and then add another statewide mandate on top of it,” said Nancy Hoffman Vanyek, chief executive of the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Valley businesses have to be aware of city ordinances, state ordinances and federal ordinances. These are just more and more layers that make it harder to do business.” However, if business groups appeal the decision, the dispute could potentially go to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the determination could have a national impact on these types of businesses. In addition, an employer’s business judgment and preferences as well as the physical layout of the working environment are also relevant factors, but do not determine employer obligations, the California decision states. “According to the California Supreme Court, an employer that seeks to be excused from the seating requirement in the wage orders bears the burden of showing that compliance would not be feasible because no suitable seating is possible due to the nature of the work,” said L.A.-based attorney Kate Gold, partner in Drinker Biddle & Reath’s labor and employment group. “It is not the employee’s obligation to show that he or she requested a seat or that it would be feasible to provide seating for a particular position.” Partner Retirement Senior Partner Todd Kelly, 49, is retiring from Westlake Village-based law firm Floyd Skeren & Kelly. May 31 will be his official last day. “You know I’m not even convinced the job is going to let me retire,” joked Kelly. “So we will see how that goes.” He started at the Law Offices of John B. Floyd as a 19-year-old file clerk during his undergraduate studies at UCLA, and from there, attended McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific in Sacramento. After passing the bar, he joined as a new attorney at Floyd & Skeren and made partner in 1998 when the firm took on the name Floyd Skeren & Kelly. Now the firm has 12 offices throughout California and more than 50 employees just in its Westlake location. The firm specializes in civil and business litigation, criminal law, employment and labor law, family law as well as workers’ compensation law defense, which was one of Kelly’s specialties. “I’m still intrigued by workers’ comp.,” said Kelly. “I think the industry has a long way to go to be the system that it could be and should be. To that extent, if I could make a difference on the employer side or broker side, that might be an angle that intrigues me down the road. But first and foremost, extra curriculars and family.” Staff Expansion Patent Attorney Cameron Cushman has joined the Glendale office of Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie as an associate in the firm’s intellectual property practice group. Earlier this year, the firm Lewis Roca Rothgerber merged with Glendale-based Christie Parker & Hale to expand the combined company’s intellectual property practice and to gain scale for patent litigation services. “Post-merger, we have a top-tier group and a much broader geographical range,” said Cushman. “We have practitioners in a broad range of technologies, and we function at a level of a top-tier IP practice. I think we are just looking to raise our profile.” Prior to joining Lewis Roca, Cushman worked as a patent counsel at the Al Mann Foundation in Valencia, where he gained experience developing and commercializing medical devices. In his new position, Cushman is responsible for preparing U.S. and international patent applications for electrical and mechanical inventions. Staff Reporter Stephanie Henkel can be reached at (818) 316-3130 or shenkel@sfvbj.com.

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