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Expense Reimbursement for Cell Phones

California Attorneys Advising and Representing Workers

Increasingly, employers expect workers to check into work regularly or remain on call. In some cases, you may be required to be available online, but in other cases, you will need to stay available by cell phone or conduct certain business calls by phone. Your employer must cover the cost of your work-related cell phone calls. If your employer refuses to provide expense reimbursement for cell phones, or if you are uncertain about your rights in this regard, you should give the seasoned California wage and hour lawyers at The Nourmand Law Firm a call. We have more than two decades of experience representing employees in lawsuits to enforce their rights to reimbursement and to be paid fairly.

Claims Related to Expense Reimbursement for Cell Phones

Companies are not supposed to shift the necessary costs of running their businesses onto their employees by making them pay out-of-pocket for business expenses. California Labor Code section 2802 requires your employer to reimburse you for a range of work-related expenses incurred in the context of work. Your employer cannot require you to waive your right to reimbursement for work-related expenses under section 2802 in its employment contract. A court will not enforce an employment contract that specifies that you do not have a right to reimbursement for work-related expenses, such as cell phone calls made or taken for your employer.

In order for our lawyers to obtain reimbursement for your cell phone calls, however, they must be considered reasonable and necessary to doing your job. You must have incurred costs as a direct consequence of your job duties. For example, if your job is to conduct sales of insurance by phone, the costs of calls with customers should be reimbursed.

Your employer should not retaliate against you for asserting your right to be reimbursed. In other words, you should not be fired, demoted, or docked pay because you asked that your cell phone calls be reimbursed according to California law. Our lawyers may be able to pursue a claim for damages under section 2802, for example, if you were an advice nurse who needed to remain on call for 48-hour shifts to consult with patients, and you were wrongfully terminated when you asked that the cost of your cell phone bill for those hours each week be reimbursed.

Cell Phone Bills

If you receive reimbursement for a work-related expense, it will be tax-deductible if it is ordinary and necessary, and the actual cost of the expense can be substantiated. Cell phone bills may need to be produced for this purpose. In some cases, employees use cell phones both for work calls and for their own personal business. A percentage of your real expenses can be reimbursed, based on how often your calls are work-related. However, who pays for the phone and the monthly phone bill? If your employer reimburses you for the phone, it owns the property that was purchased. In that case, when you separate from your employer and move on to the next job, you may need to return the cell phone to your employer.

It is possible for your employer to follow the law by increasing your compensation rather than directly reimbursing you for the reasonable costs of your cell phone use. However, the company must use a reasonable method to decide which portion of your wage increase is allotted to reimbursement. They cannot avoid their obligation by simply increasing your pay but instead must itemize the specific sum that constitutes reimbursement.

Consult an Employment Lawyer About Expense Reimbursement

Cell phone calls are an ordinary part of business for many companies. If you are concerned about your employer’s expense reimbursement for cell phones, you should discuss your situation with the experienced California attorneys at The Nourmand Law Firm. For more than 20 years, we have tenaciously represented workers in wage and hour claims in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties, as well as Oakland and Sacramento, among other areas. Complete our online form or call us at 310-553-3600 or 800-700-WAGE (9243).

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