Under California law, an employer must reimburse employees for all necessary expenses or losses that the employee incurs or pays as part of his or her job.  Costs and expenses that are incurred as a direct consequent of the discharge of an employee’s duties or due to the employee following the employer’s directions to pay such expenses must be paid back to the employee as a tax-free reimbursement that is separate from the employee’s regular pay.


An employee who is not reimbursed for work-related expenses is entitled to recover the amount of the reimbursement, interest, penalties and attorney’s fees and costs.  Any expense paid by an employee for the benefit of his or her employer must be reimbursed:

  • Travel expenses
  • Use of a personal car for work
  • Home internet used for work-related purposes
  • Monthly cell phone fees if used for work
  • Vehicle rentals
  • Transportation and air travel
  • Dry cleaning for prolonged business trips
  • Parking fees and tolls
  • Uniform costs
  • Client entertainment costs
  • Education and training charges
  • Conference fees if required for work
  • Hotel fees for business center internet use

These costs are only a few examples of the types of charges that employees commonly pay in advance and later seek reimbursement from their employer.  Failure to provide the reimbursement within a reasonable time after a request is unlawful.  Expense cases can often be resolved as an individual settlement or as part of a class action lawsuit on behalf of numerous similarly aggrieved employees.


Work-related travel expenses, as well as internet and cell phone costs, are the most common reimbursement violations.  Employees that work from home may be entitled to reimbursement for personal costs incurred for business use, including use of telephone lines, internet, printing fees, and other expenses that the employee wouldn’t ordinarily have to incur.  Depending on the duties for the position, working from home may also give rise to employee misclassification or independent contractor damages in addition to other recoverable losses.


For use of a personal vehicle at work, employers may satisfy California’s reimbursement requirement in one of three ways.  Companies can pay an employee a reasonable stipend that covers the portion of gas, insurance, licensing, and depreciation of the vehicle used for work, cost of gas.  They can pay for the actual cost of travel, considering the foregoing.  Or an employer can pay its employees the applicable IRS mileage rate.  The IRS mileage rate method is the easiest way for employers to reimburse costs for an employee’s use of a personal vehicle.  If you aren’t receiving reimbursement under any of these methods for your use of a personal vehicle, then your employer is failing to comply with California law.


If you believe that you weren’t reimbursed for your work-related expenses, Ferraro Employment Law will examine your records to determine if you have a valid legal claim.  Case evaluations are always free of charge and if we represent you we will do so on a contingency fee basis.