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Cingular has reached a compromise with employees who were angered that management had taken away their seats in stores and was requiring them to stand. An obscure Massachusetts law, MGL c.149, s.103, may have saved their chairs.

Originally written to protect “women or children” in “manufacturing, mechanical or mercantile” businesses, the law was amended in 1974 to include all employees. It now provides: “Employers shall provide suitable seats for the use of their employees and shall permit such employees to use such seats whenever they are not necessarily engaged in the active duties of their employment, and shall also provide for their use and permit them to use suitable seats while at work, except when the work cannot properly be performed in a sitting position or when such seats may reasonably be expected to result in an unsafe or hazardous working condition. Whoever violates this section shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than two hundred dollars.”

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