Sitting: A New Growth Industry in Liability?

By Steve Barrett
Sunday, July 1, 2018

With extended periods of sitting being associated with a range of health issues, healthcare facilities may risk future liability if they do not provide options that get more employees on their feet.

Researchers at Drexel University argue that permitting employees to have a cause of action in connection with sedentary work environments will force employers to minimize potential harm related to remaining seated for too long.

The group studied how some government agencies and private companies promote healthful lifestyles. Many encourage a range of healthy practices — from health coaching to various screenings. Others more directly address their sedentary environments by making treks to coffee stations longer, for example, or making it convenient to play basketball on-site.

The authors also found that in limited cases, courts have appeared open to the idea that employees can meet the legal threshold required to establish that a sedentary workplace may be the cause of a harm that merits compensation.

“Forcing the employer to incorporate the full cost of employment, including the cost of injury or disease precipitated by a workplace that is designed for sitting for the majority of the day, will incentivize employers to change their workplace design as necessary in order to avoid liability,” co-author Natalie Pedersen, JD, Assistant Professor of Legal Studies, stated in a news release.

The study is slated for publication in the Lewis & Clark Law Review.