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Safeway Clerks Can Sit Down On The Job After Santa Clara Court Ruling

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) -- Big changes could be coming to your local Safeway check-out line. Employees will now get the option of "sitting down on the job" thanks to a Santa Clara County court ruling that also forces the grocery chain to pay a $12 million fine.

A judge ruled in favor of a Santa Clara cashier, Eva Sharp, who sued the chain saying it violated state law by failing to provide her with a seat to do her job.

The ruling forces Safeway to give employees the option of sitting or standing and provide seats for up to 30,000 employees.

"I think it's fine. I used to be a cashier in a former life and if you have to stand all day, it's pretty taxing," said Elizabeth Richter, a Safeway customer.

Safeway -- which unsuccessfully tried to have the case dismissed --had no comment on the ruling. But many customers sided with employees, who could get aches and pains by standing for long periods behind the register.

"I think it's a great idea, both for fatigue and if someone is handicapped they can be a checker," said

Tracy Powell, a former retail worker, who suffers from knee problems.

"I had bad knees, they've both been replaced and my employer said they'd get me a stool so I could stay on the terminal and get off my feet."

But other customers say cashiers literally sitting down on the job will likely lead to longer lines.

"How do you sit down and rest if it requires you to bag as well to get the line moving?" asked Arthur Sisneros of San Jose. "Otherwise the product backs up, and now the customer's got to do it and you're just sitting down resting and watching."

"It might work better to relieve the checkers at a more frequent time rather then have them sitting down for such long periods," he said.

Most of the $12 million settlement will go to the state of California, lawyers fees and other employees who were denied seating. The plaintiff will receive $14,000.

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