Failure to Reimburse Business Expenses
Many employees are surprised to learn that California labor laws have strong provisions relating to workplace reimbursement requirements. Exactly what has to be reimbursed can vary depending on where an employee works, but the basic requirement is that any expenses incurred by an employee on behalf of the employer should be reimbursed.
While this seems simple enough, whether an employee has a claim against an employer always depends on the situation of the employee and what they have been asked to do by the employer. Below are some examples to help clarify what an employee should look for in determining what should be reimbursed.Travel Expenses
One of the main areas that we see violations of the CA Labor Code dealing with reimbursements are related to travel expenses. These can include mileage, hotels, rental cars, gas, meals, lodging, parking costs, conference registration fees, and even internet access expenses.
Essentially, an employer is required to reimburse any of these expenses that are necessary expenditures that are directly related to the business of the employer. There are limitations to this. As an example, an employer is required to reimburse the cost of flights to travel to and from a business meeting but they are not required to pay for first class on those flights. This is going to be dependent on the employer’s reimbursement policies.Employer Reimbursement for Cell Phone Bills
When an employer requires you to use your personal cell phone for business purposes, they must reimburse you for the use of your phone. Keep in mind this applies whether the phone is used only for calls or text messages too.
An employer does not have to pay the entire cellular phone bill and typically requests to pay all of the bill would be considered unreasonable. However, an employer would have to reimburse at least a percentage of the bill depending on the type of use. This would be something that an attorney would look at on a case by case basis.Employer Reimbursement for Internet Expenses
Just like with cellular phones, an employer can be required to reimburse at least a portion of internet expenses when an employee is required to use their home internet in order to conduct business for the employer. This type of reimbursement would also depend on the percentage of usage and what is required by the employer.COVID Work from Home Reimbursement of Expenses
With COVID hitting the employment sector hard in 2020, a significant number of San Diego, California employees have been working from home. When an employee is asked, required or allowed to work from home, the employer would have to provide reimbursement for any expenses necessary to conduct work. This could include the cost of internet, computers, printers, cellular phone bills, and other expenses related to working from home.Reimbursement for the Cost of Uniforms or Tools
When employees are asked to purchase a certain uniform for work, an employer could be required to reimburse the employee for the cost of the uniform. It depends on whether the uniform is specific in nature to the employment.
A simple dress code is not enough to require reimbursement. For example, an employer that requires jeans, t-shirts and tennis shoes would not have to reimburse an employee for the cost of those items. However, an employer requiring an employee to purchase uniforms with company logos would be required to reimburse the employee.
When an employee is required to have tools or equipment to perform their job, the employer typically has to provide those tools and maintain them. There is an exception to this rule for employees who are paid at least twice the minimum wage and could be required to provide and maintain certain hand tools and equipment required in their trade.
If you are being required to pay for your own uniforms or tools at work, it could be worthwhile to reach out to an employment lawyer to discuss whether you should be getting reimbursed for your expenses.Statute of Limitations to Recover Unreimbursed Expenses
Typically, employment related claims are limited to a three or four-year statute of limitations, depending on the claim that is made. A failure to reimburse expenses is a statutory duty subject to a three-year statute of limitations. Although recovery of a penalty is typically limited to a statute as short as one year. It is important to speak to an experienced employment lawyer about your case to check what the statute is in your particular case and which might apply.Damages in a Failure to Reimburse Business Expenses Case
If a case is filed for failure to reimburse business expenses, an employee can typically recover reimbursement of the expenses as well as interest, attorneys’ fees and costs.Contact a San Diego Work Expense Reimbursement Lawyer for Help with Your Case
If your employer has refused to reimburse business expenses, contact us at (619) 377-4660 to discuss your case. We offer free consultations to employment clients and there is never a fee unless we recover money for you.