May 27, 2020

May 27, 2020

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May 26, 2020

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Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc.; California Court Tells Employers to Pay Part of Employees’ Cell Phone Bills

Action required: Employers should review their cell phone policies in light of this new ruling

Labor Code section 2802 requires an employer to reimburse an employee who uses a personal cell phone for work-related calls, according to the California Court of Appeal, Second Appellate District.

"Reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cell phone bills"

In a sweeping decision, published Tuesday, August 12, the Court of Appeal in Cochran v. Schwan's Home Service, Inc., stated: "We hold that when employees must use their personal cell phones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Whether the employees have cell phone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cell phone bills." Even if the employee has purchased a personal cell phone plan that provides the employee with "unlimited" minutes and the employee does not incur any additional expense for his/her work-related calls, the employer must still provide a reasonable reimbursement to the employee.

Although Tuesday's decision remains subject to further appellate activity (and does not become final for 30 days) employers should begin to review their cell phone policies now to assess this emerging issue.

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About this Author

Dwight L. Armstrong, Employment litigator, Allen Matkins Law Firm

Dwight L. Armstrong is a partner in the firm's Orange County office. Dwight manages the firm's Labor and Employment Law Practice Group and is experienced in both litigation and transactional matters. He represents employers and management with a wide variety of employment litigation, ranging from wrongful termination and employment discrimination lawsuits to wage and hour class actions. Dwight has also handled numerous trade secret, no-solicitation and unfair competition cases. In addition, Dwight’s practice involves substantial preventative counseling and advice,...