Practice Area: Employment Law & Unpaid Wages
Case Status: Under Investigation
Berger Montague is investigating whether companies in California that enforce Bring Your Own Device (“BYOD”) policies are failing to reimburse their employees.
About the case
On August 12, 2014, California’s Second District Court of Appeal held in Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Services Inc., No. B247160, that California Labor Code Section 2802 requires employers to reimburse their employees for work-related use of personal cellphones and other personal electronic devices, stating:
“We hold that when employees must use their personal cellphones for work-related calls, Labor Code section 2802 requires the employer to reimburse them. Whether the employees have cellphone plans with unlimited minutes or limited minutes, the reimbursement owed is a reasonable percentage of their cellphone bills.”
The court specifically ruled that even if an employee does not acquire any additional expenses due to work-related calls (for example, if the employee has a cellphone plan with unlimited minutes or the plan is paid for by a third party), the company must still pay a portion of the employee’s monthly access bill.
Under a BYOD policy, workers are encouraged or required to use their personal electronic devices, such as cellphones, tablets, or laptops, to access corporate email accounts and perform other work-related activities. In addition, some employers expect or require their employees to send and receive communication outside of their scheduled work hours, while on vacation, or during paid time off (PTO). In such cases, this may be a crossover offense of California Wage & Hour Laws covering overtime pay.
Typically, any employee may have a claim under the California BYOD ruling, including:
- Both nonexempt (typically paid hourly) and exempt (typically salaried) employees
- Workplaces and businesses of all sizes, from small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to enterprises
There are additional BYOD-related scenarios that are not currently covered under the ruling but do reinforce the state’s case. Some examples include:
- Forced installation of corporate applications on personal devices, such as mobile security software that can access a smartphone’s data
- The required use of your mobile data for things such as email or accessing corporate applications/software
- If you have been asked to provide access to any personal, non-work related accounts that reside on your device(s), such as social media or private email
- Those who were partially reimbursed for their cell phone usage but were required to manually calculate the monthly reimbursement costs
If your California employer requires you to bring your own cellphone, tablet, or laptop to work and use it for business purposes, contact Berger Montague.
Do I have to consult with an attorney?
We are happy to talk with you about your potential claims free of charge. If we decide to represent you in a lawsuit, we will enter into a written contingent fee agreement with you. A contingent fee agreement means we only get paid if we win, and that we will receive our fees from the amount paid by the Defendant in the case.
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