In Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Serv., Inc., Plaintiff filed a class action on behalf of 1,500 customer service managers who were not reimbursed for expenses pertaining to the work-related use of their personal cell phones.
The court found that if an employee is required to make work related calls on a personal cell phone, then he or she is incurring an expense under section 2802 of the California Labor Code. It does not matter whether the employee’s personal cell phone bill is paid by a third party (i.e., a family member or friensd), whether the employee changed plans to accommodate work-related cell phone usage, or whether the employee has an unlimited plan and thus incurred no additional expense for the work-related calls. Also, the details of the employee’s cell phone plan do not factor in into the liability analysis.
The court said that to hold otherwise would result in a windfall to the employer, because it would be passing its operating expenses on to its employees.
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