California Class Action Lawsuits Over BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) Expense Reimbursement

April 23, 2015 - Some are expecting a wave of California employee class action lawsuits to show up any day with demands for expense reimbursement in relation to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies. Last year a California court ruled that when employees use their personal mobile phone for work (resulting in phone call charges), they must be reimbursed by their employer.

The ruled that when California employees have to use their personal mobile phones for work related purposes, California law (Labor Code section 2802) requires that employers provide reimbursement. The specifics of the employees cell phone plan (unlimited minutes vs. limited minutes) shouldn’t change their right for reimbursement, but reimbursement for BYOD policies should be a reasonable percentage of their total cell phone service bill.

Based on the decision in Araiza v. The Scotts Company, LLC, in which plaintiffs demanding reimbursement for employee business expenses, other employees are starting to file class action lawsuits in California courts seeking similar reimbursement. This isn’t the first time a class action lawsuit has been filed in an attempt to obtain reimbursement for like expenses, but this decision has California employers studying their policies and California workers considering the legality of their own employer’s Bring Your Own Device policies. 

This trial could set in motion a new trend in class action lawsuits. The BYOD discussion lends itself to a number of devices – some are even pointing towards home WiFi. Almost everyone has WiFi in his or her home, but many use it to access their corporate network after hours or simply out of office. Those who see this as an issue limited to California should consider that other states have similar wording and language in their state labor laws. A lot depends on the ruling in this case, but even if it doesn’t end in the plaintiffs’ favor in California, it’s likely that someone else will use what they learned from watching the case play out in California and file a similar suit in another area.

If you are unsure whether or not you should be eligible for a BYOD expense reimbursement from your employer, contact the southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.