Temperature Requirements in the Workplace
Most employers do not need to keep a specific workplace temperature under federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations. However, the California Industrial Wage Commission has issued a wage order that provides temperature requirements in the workplace. Generally, it is aimed at retailers with distribution depots and e-commerce depots in the state. If your employer fails to abide by Wage Order 15, you have a private right of action to pursue monetary remedies under the Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (PAGA). The California wage and hour attorneys at The Nourmand Law Firm can investigate the actions of your employer and help you bring this type of claim.Claims Under Wage Order 15
Wage Order 15 provides that the temperature maintained in covered work areas should give reasonable comfort that is aligned with the standards for the industry, given the type of process and work involved. When the process used generates excessive heat or humidity, your employer is supposed to take all feasible measures to reduce the excessive humidity or heat to a degree that offers reasonable comfort. When the nature of the work that you are doing mandates a temperature that is less than 60 degrees, your employer is supposed to provide you with a heated room where you can go to get warm. The room is supposed to be kept at a temperature of at least 68 degrees. Resting rooms, toilet rooms, and changing rooms are supposed to be at least 68 degrees during the hours of use. However, federal and California energy guidelines take precedence over any provisions of Wage Order 15 that conflict with them.
Claims related to temperature requirements in the workplace often arise when a workplace without proper heating or air conditioning gets very hot in the summer or very cold in the winter. An employer may need to pay penalties of $100 for each employee per pay period if it violates Wage Order 15. In addition, it may need to pay penalties of $200 for each subsequent violation. Sometimes many employees are affected by the same violation, which means that the penalties can be substantial. The California Occupational Safety and Health Administration is developing a rule governing indoor temperatures in the workplace. This might bolster employee claims based on violations of Wage Order 15.
The situation will determine whether your employer can assert any defenses. Sometimes employers may be inclined to defend themselves by arguing that the requirement of reasonable comfort and the reliance on industry-wide standards create too much uncertainty. Also, it may be difficult and expensive to control the temperature of the work area, given the nature of the work performed. Each case hinges on its specific facts, so you should consult an attorney as soon as you think that you may have a claim. Your attorney can evaluate the strength of your case and build arguments to hold your employer accountable.Consult a Knowledgeable Wage and Hour Lawyer in California
Employees spend many hours on the job, and they should not be required to work in excessively hot or excessively cold temperatures for long periods. However, many workers do not know that California law specifically provides this right, or they may not know that they can pursue a claim for a violation of Wage Order 15. Our wage and hour attorneys are available to evaluate whether your employer violated temperature requirements in the workplace and guide you through any legal process that may be appropriate. The Nourmand Law Firm represents clients in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties, as well as Oakland and Sacramento, among other areas of California. You can complete our online form or give us a call at 310-553-3600 or 800-700-WAGE (9243) to set up a free consultation. We know that it can be stressful and challenging going up against an employer or a former employer, and we are here to take this burden off your shoulders.