Cell Phone Use

The general answer is yes – and this is true even if your plan is unlimited, so long as it is necessary in performing your duties.  In Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., 228 Cal.App.4th 1137 (2014) (“Cochran”), the California Court of Appeal held that employers must reimburse employees for required work-related use of personal cell phones—regardless of whether they incur any additional out-of-pocket expense from that work-related use. The Court held that even where the plan is unlimited and the employee did not incur any additional cost, reimbursement was required under Labor Code Section 2802 because the employer would otherwise receive a windfall as it would be passing its operation expense onto the employee.

The Cochran case of course raises a number of interesting issues with respect to other business expenses incurred.  For example, expenses incurred when working remotely, such as electricity, internet, and use of personal devices.  Arguably, such expenses are also reimbursable under Section 2802. While courts have not ruled on these specific issues, we will likely see these issues arise especially given the ease and ability of employees to work remotely.

If you believe you have incurred any business expenses that have not been reimbursed, contact one of our attorneys to discuss your situation.