Wave of lawsuits over seats hit retail stores

By PAUL ELIAS | June 18, 2011 | 1:30 PM EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Retail store operators may want to sit down for this one — if they can find a chair.

Nearly every national chain is under legal attack in California for failing to provide "suitable seating" for cashiers and other employees who are expected to spend most of their work day on their feet.

Trial attorneys by the dozen are using an obscure California labor law requiring retailers such as such as Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Target to have enough seats on hand for their workers. Superficially, the allegations appear to be little more than a nuisance.

But armed with two recent appellate decisions, the retailers are facing millions of dollars in damages. A first violation calls for as much as $100 per employee per pay period.