Veteran California employment lawyer Eric Grover discusses many ways employers improperly reimburse — or fail to reimburse — work expenses, and what employees can do about it.
For many employees, spending money out of pocket for work-related expenses is an unavoidable, and often inconvenient, fact of life. Recouping these costs can be a time-consuming process, involving paperwork and what frequently turns out to be a lengthy wait. But in a troubling number of cases, reimbursement never happens at all. Employers fail to pay back their employees — improperly and unfairly. Fortunately, labor law is on the workers’ side.
In a new Google Hangout, veteran wage and hour lawyer Eric Grover from San Francisco , of the California labor and employment law firm Keller Grover, discusses the problems — and the available remedies — regarding illegal non-payment or underpayment of work expenses. The failure to reimburse these costs, Grover notes, is not only a pervasive problem, but one where employees typically don’t realize the broad rights they have.
“It’s not just a matter of failing to pay legitimate expenses,” says Grover. “There are many cases where an employer sets a policy — such as limiting the amount that can be reimbursed or basing reimbursement on an employee’s position or salary — that look very official but are, in fact, outright illegal. California law, in particular, has very clear rules about the reimbursement of work expenses, and what it all boils down to is if you spend money for a legitimate work expense, you are entitled to recover those costs. Period.”
In the Google Hangout — now available online. San Francisco Attorney Eric Grover discusses California labor law, along with general legal concepts regarding expense reimbursement. The idea, he says, is to educate employees on their rights and recourses, and give them the full picture of what expenses the law says must be reimbursed — even when employers say they won’t.
“Employers are required to fully reimburse employees for work-related expenses, and the key word is ‘fully,’” says Grover. “A lot of employees will utilize a so-called ‘lump sum’ system to cover reimbursement, where they say, essentially, ‘here’s some money to cover your costs, and if you go over, well — your loss.’ The law says, ‘no, not your loss. Your employer needs to pay you for work expenses that exceed the lump sum, too.”
Nor can employers legally have their workers waive their right to reimbursement, or pay set rates for vehicle usage that doesn’t cover actual operating costs. “These are all things unscrupulous — or simply uninformed — employers do all the time, and unfortunately, the list goes on,” says Grover. “An experienced labor and employment lawyer can put a stop to them, but first employees need to know when they’ve been wronged. That’s why it is important to talk about the topic and have these Google Hangouts. Employees need to know what they are entitled to — and how to go about getting it.”
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