California law requires your employer to reimburse you for all “necessary” expenses you incur because of your job. One of the most common job-related costs employees have is the cost of a personal cellular telephone or “smart phone.” Unfortunately, employers often require their employees to have a smart phone so that managers can communicate with employees and even track their whereabouts, but do not reimburse employees for the costs of purchasing monthly voice and data service.
It’s The Law: If Your Employer Requires You To Use A Personal Cell Phone Or “Smart Phone” For Work, You Must Be Reimbursed For The Cost
Reimbursement of employee cell phone expenses is governed by California Labor Code Section 2802, which provides:
An employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer . . . .
In simple English, Section 2803 mandates that employers reimburse their employees for costs they incur in the performance of their jobs or because of the employer’s instructions.
This means that if your employer requires you to have a cell phone or smart phone for work purposes, your employer MUST reimburse you for the costs of providing the phone. This is true regardless of whether the employer has a stated policy that employees have a phone, or simply uses your phone to regularly communicate with you, either by voice or text. This is also true even if you use your phone both for personal and work purposes.
You are also entitled to reimbursement of cell phone expenses if your employer requires you to use a particular “app” or function on the phone.
What the Courts Say About Reimbursement of Cell Phone Expenses
The leading case on cell phone expense reimbursement in California is Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 1137. There the court answered the question “Does an employer always have to reimburse an employee for the reasonable expense of the mandatory use of a personal cell phone?” with a resounding YES: “The answer is that reimbursement is always required.”
Other common employee expenses include vehicle mileage expense and travel expenses.
How Does Section 2802 Help Me?
Under Section 2802, you are not only entitled to reimbursement of all “necessary” expenses you have incurred in performing your job, you are also entitled to recover the fees an attorney may charge to recover those expenses from your employer in a lawsuit.
If Your Employer Has Failed to Reimburse You Fairly, Contact Our Orange County Office Today
The Orange County based Law Offices of Corbett H. Williams is an elite law firm that represents employees in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful termination, wage & hour and other employment matters. Strict time limits may apply to your claim, so you shouldn’t wait. Contact us today at 949-679-9909 or use the contact form at the bottom of this page, and we will respond promptly.