Work & Personal Cell Phones

Everybody uses a cell phone now. They are simply a necessity of living in an age of emails, texting, and social media. But smart phones are expensive, so are monthly plans. And have you ever gone over your data limit? It can get ridiculously expensive. Which brings me to my next point: cell phones have become an essential work tool for many employees.

Your employer may require to be on call, to receive and send emails through your phone, to text or use social media, or even to purchase expensive apps. So what are you supposed to do when use your personal cell phone for work and end up running up your bill?

California Employers Responsible for Employee Expenses

If you were not aware, California employees are entitled to reimbursement for employment related expenses. Specifically, the California Labor Code states that:

“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. . .”

This statute is best known to require employee reimbursements for expenses such as work travel, mileage, and industrial equipment. However, the California 4th District Court of Appeals has also applied this to cell phone bills when employers mandate employees to use their personal cell phones for work.

In that case, customer services managers sued their employer because: (1) they incurred cell phone expenditures “in the discharge of their duties”; (2) their company knew that the employees were making these expenditures; and (3) the company failed to exercise due diligence in reimbursing those expenditures. The company argued, in part, that unlimited talk plans meant that the employees were not actually spending extra money to use their phones for work purposes. It also argued that it was not clear whether the employee or his girlfriend was actually paying the monthly cell phone bill. The Court of Appeals rejected these arguments, and held that “reimbursement is always required” and that under the Labor Code, the employer must “pay some reasonable percentage of the employee’s cell phone bill”.

This means that if your employer requires you to use a personal cell phone for work, your employer is responsible for paying you back some “reasonable percentage” of your bill. The penalties for failing to reimburse an employee for work related expenses includes reimbursement of the expenses, interest from the date the expense accrued, and attorneys fees.

Call Moss Bollinger to Fight For You

You have a right to reimbursement when your employer requires you to spend your own money. If your employer takes their sweet time to reimburse you, or refuse outright, call a lawyer. Moss Bollinger is an employee rights law firm that takes pride in taking on employers that violate the law. Call us and we can help you determine if you have a claim. We work on a contingency basis and do not get paid unless you do. Call the law firm of Moss Bollinger today at (866) 535-2994 for a free consultation or use our online form.

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