California Employee Expense Reimbursements

Shavitz Law Group

The federal statute known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay overtime and minimum wage for non-exempt employees.  As a federal law, the FLSA applies nationwide. However, some states offer more protection than the FLSA. For example, in California, employers are required to reimburse employees for necessary expenses incurred while performing their jobs.

This requirement comes from Section 2802 of the California Labor Code, which ensures that employees are not forced to pay out-of-pocket for work-related expenses. Section 2802 specifically states: “An employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties . . .” The protections of § 2802 are broad and apply to all employees.

Here are a few examples of how § 2802 operates:

Personal Vehicles

When employees use their personal vehicles for work purposes, employers must reimburse them for the associated costs. Reimbursement should cover all expenses related to the vehicle’s use, including maintenance, insurance, and wear and tear. The most common method for calculating this reimbursement is by using the IRS standard mileage rate, which provides a per-mile rate that factors in all these costs.

For example, if the IRS mileage rate is 67 cents per mile and an employee drives 100 miles for work, the employer would reimburse $67.

Use of Personal Cell Phones

Similarly, if employees use their personal cell phones for work, employers must cover a fair share of the costs. This includes voice calls, text messages, and data usage necessary to perform their job.

One approach is for employers to reimburse a reasonable percentage of the employee’s phone bill. For example, if it’s determined that 30% of the phone usage is work-related, then 30% of the monthly bill should be reimbursed. If you work in California and believe you have not been properly reimbursed for expenses you incurred as a direct result of your job duties, please contact Shavitz Law Group at [email protected].

California Rights for Outside Sales Employees

Shavitz Law Group

When it comes to workers’ rights, California law is often stronger than federal law, meaning that California often grants more generous rights to workers than the federal overtime and minimum wage law known as the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”). One example of is found in how the Outside Salesperson exemption is treated under California law and the FLSA.

Under the FLSA, an outside sales employee is exempt if they meet the following test:

The employee’s primary duty must be making sales or obtaining orders or contracts for services or for the use of facilities for which a consideration will be paid by the client or customer; and

    • The employee must be customarily and regularly engaged away from the employer’s place or places of business
    • California’s requirements for outside salespersons are somewhat different. Under the California Labor Code and  California Wage Orders, an outside salesperson is defined as follows:
      • Any person, 18 years of age or over;
      • Who customarily and regularly works more than half (more than 50 percent) the working time away from the employer’s place of business;
      • Selling tangible or intangible items or obtaining orders or contracts for products, services, or use of facilities.

Unlike the FLSA’s qualitative standard, California law sets a quantitative standard. The FLSA focuses more on the overall quality of a salesperson’s work. Unlike the FLSA which focuses on an employee’s “primary duty,” California law takes “a quantitative approach, looking to the actual hours spent on sales activity to determine if an employee is primarily a salesperson.” Under this standard, an employee is exempt if more than fifty percent of his job duties involved “sales-related activities.”

If you are employed as an Outside Salesperson (or are involved in sales as an independent contractor) in California and are spending less than 50% of your time outside of the office (including a home office), then you may be entitled to overtime for the hours you work over 40 in a work week.

If you have questions regarding overtime or your employment, please contact Shavitz Law Group at [email protected].


After-Hours Communications

Shavitz Law Group

The Fair Labor Standards Act mandates that employers compensate non-exempt employees for all overtime hours worked. What many employers fail to appreciate is that “work” encompasses not only to traditional tasks performed at a worksite. In this age of technology where communication can occur 24/7, various work-related activities conducted outside regular working hours are considered “work” for which employees are entitled to be paid, including off-site and after-hours communications, such as emails, texts, messages, and phone calls.

For instance, when non-exempt employees respond to work emails/texts/messages during evenings or weekends when they are otherwise off-shift, the time spent engaging in these communications is considered compensable work and should be factored into the calculation of overtime pay. Similarly, if employees are required to participate in work-related phone conferences outside of their standard work hours, the additional time dedicated to these activities qualifies as overtime.

Employers now take it as a given that they can communicate with their employees after hours, via email/text/messaging/phone. While such communication may be considered the “new normal,” employers are required to accurately track and pay for all compensable time, irrespective of the method or medium of communication. If non-exempt employees engage in work-related communications through emails, texts, messages, or phone calls after hours, when they are off the clock, they are entitled to overtime for those additional hours worked.






Stryker Can’t Slip California Workers’ Wage Suit

Shavitz Law Group

Law360 (January 30, 2024, 5:40 PM EST) — Medical device company Stryker cannot escape former workers’ wage claims, a California federal judge ruled Tuesday, saying it was unclear whether the company was the workers’ employer because it still retained some authority over workers employed by the company’s subsidiaries.

Former Hertz Managers Seek Class Cert. In OT Suit

Shavitz Law Group

Law360 (January 5, 2024, 1:57 PM EST) — Former Hertz managers accusing the company of cheating lower-level managers out of 10 to 15 hours of weekly overtime wages asked a Florida federal judge to certify a collective, saying Hertz’s standardized operations prove they are similar enough to proceed as a group.

Teva Workers Say Proposed OT Class Had Same Duties

Shavitz Law Group

Law360 (December 18, 2023, 2:45 PM EST) — A group of sales workers urged a New Jersey federal judge to certify a class in their suit accusing Teva Pharmaceuticals of unlawfully denying them overtime wages during an extended training program, arguing that the company had admitted to the misclassification, proving they had a common claim.

The Gender Pay Gap: Why Do Women Still Earn Less Than Men in the Workplace?

Shavitz Law Group

Despite progress in achieving gender equality, one issue that continues to persist in the modern workplace is the gender pay gap. Women in the United States, on average, earn less than their male counterparts for performing the same work. This article delves into the reasons behind this disparity and explores the legal measures that have been implemented to address it. 

Understanding the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap refers to the difference in average earnings between men and women in the workforce. Despite similar educational qualifications, experience, and skills, women tend to earn less than men in various industries and professions. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, women in the United States earned approximately 82 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2020. This gap is even wider for women of color and those in higher-paying positions.

Root Causes of the Gender Pay Gap

  • Occupational Segregation: Women are often concentrated in industries and occupations that traditionally pay less. This occupational segregation, along with the undervaluation of feminized industries, contributes significantly to the pay gap.
  • Motherhood Penalty: Women are disproportionately affected by the motherhood penalty, which refers to the negative impact on earnings and career advancement that often occurs when women have children. This penalty is driven by factors such as biases, limited access to flexible work arrangements, and inadequate parental leave policies.
  • Lack of Representation in Leadership Positions: Women continue to face barriers in reaching senior leadership roles. This lack of representation not only affects their earning potential directly but also perpetuates gender disparities throughout the organization.

Legal Measures Addressing the Gender Pay Gap

Recognizing the need to address this pervasive issue, the U.S. government has implemented the following legal measures to tackle the gender pay gap:

  • Equal Pay Act of 1963: This federal law prohibits gender-based wage discrimination by mandating equal pay for equal work. However, challenges remain in enforcing this law effectively.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VII prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, ensuring that women have equal opportunities in the workplace. It covers aspects such as hiring, promotion, and compensation.
  • State and Local Laws: Many states and localities have introduced additional measures to combat the gender pay gap. For example, some have implemented salary history bans, which prevent employers from considering an applicant’s previous salary during the hiring process.

Collaborating with Seasoned Employment Lawyers

Navigating the complexities of employment law and addressing gender pay gap issues requires expertise and guidance from experienced lawyers. Seasoned lawyers specializing in employment law can provide essential support to individuals facing pay discrimination. They can assist in analyzing compensation data, identifying discriminatory practices, and pursuing legal remedies.

Shavitz Law Group

Despite advancements in gender equality, the gender pay gap remains a persistent issue in the United States. Shavitz Law Group is committed to empowering individuals and fighting for workplace equality. We understand the emotional and financial toll that pay discrimination can have on individuals and are dedicated to seeking justice on their behalf.

If you have been the victim of pay discrimination in the United States, call Shavitz Law Group at (800) 616-4000. 

No Records? No Problem!

Shavitz Law Group

In its last weeks, the Trump administration adopted regulations which would make it easier for workers to be classified as independent contractors.  Those regulations never took effect. Now the Biden administration has rejected them, opting instead to keep the economic realities test. 

The proposed but not implemented regulations would have allowed employers to exempt themselves from minimum wage and overtime laws if their workers were considered independent contractors under a new test whose factors favored such a finding.  Had it passed, more workers would not have been covered by a number of laws, simply because they would not been considered employees.  Such laws would have included not only the Fair Labor Standards Act governing overtime and minimum wage, but also state laws such as workers’ compensation.  These workers also would not have been eligible for many benefits, including health insurance, and could not participate in 401k plans.

The current law which will remain in effect applies a multi-factor test to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor.  In announcing the decision to keep the existing economic realities test, the administration emphasized that federal law favors giving the broadest interpretation possible to the definition of an employee.  This approach favors workers being classified as employees, thereby entitling such workers to the protections of federal law and benefits only available to employees.

If you have questions relating to the use of company-issued email or computers, or any other employment-related matter, contact Shavitz Law Group  at (800) 616-4000 or email us at [email protected].   

Gregg Shavitz, Shavitz Law Group, 951 Yamato Rd Ste 285, Boca Raton, FL and 800 3rd Ave, Suite 2800, New York, NY.  Lawyers licensed in states including FL, NY, NJ, and TX.  The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based on advertisements alone.

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Employees’ Right to Inquire About or Claim Overtime Pay Without Retaliation

Shavitz Law Group

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a vital piece of legislation that safeguards the rights of workers in the United States. One crucial protection offered by the FLSA is the prohibition of retaliation against employees who assert their rights to seek unpaid overtime.

Under the FLSA, employers are required to compensate eligible employees for any overtime hours worked. However, workers may have questions about how they are being paid and disputes regarding unpaid overtime can sometimes arise between employers and employees. To address this issue, the FLSA guarantees the right to seek unpaid overtime and protects employees from retaliation for asserting this right.

Retaliation can take various forms, such as termination, demotion, reduction in hours, pay cuts, or any adverse action that negatively impacts the employee’s employment status or working conditions. The FLSA’s retaliation protection covers a wide range of activities, including but not limited to filing a complaint with the Department of Labor, cooperating with an investigation, or simply requesting information about their rights from their employer. It is important to note that retaliation is illegal regardless of whether the employee’s claim for unpaid overtime is ultimately successful or not.

Employees who have faced retaliation must understand the significance of the FLSA’s protection against such actions. It empowers workers to assert their rights without fear of adverse consequences. By familiarizing themselves with the specific actions covered under anti-retaliation provision of the FLSA—such as filing a complaint, cooperating with an investigation, or seeking information, or claiming backpay for unpaid overtime within the past 3 years —employees can better protect themselves. Employees should also seek legal counsel if they believe they have experienced retaliation, as they have rights and recourse under the FLSA to ensure fair and legal treatment in the workplace.

Were you Misclassified by Nike as a Temporary Office Workers?

Shavitz Law Group

As recently reported by The Guardian, the iconic sneaker brand Nike may be liable for over $530 million dollars in taxes and fines for misclassifying its temporary office workers as independent contractors. Nike’s purported misclassification of temporary office workers includes – but is not limited to — people hired by Nike to do business consulting, T-shirt graphics, photography and event planning.

In addition to avoiding taxes, companies like Nike may classify workers as independent contractors to evade billions in overtime, paid time off, restricted stock options, retirement plan contributions and healthcare. Thus, a finding that temporary office workers are actually employees and not independent contractors raises a separate and equally important issue: did Nike pay these temporary office workers overtime wages for the hours they worked over 40 in a work week? The answer to the question undoubtedly is “no.” Because it classified these temporary office workers as independent contractors, then Nike could use that independent contractor classification to wrongfully withhold overtime wages and benefits.

According to The Guardian, a report on Nike’s classification of temporary office workers warns “Employers who are found to have misclassified workers as freelancers are also potentially liable for other potential costs,” including unpaid overtime, among other things. In addition, the report also notes that Nike could be subject to class-action lawsuits for unpaid overtime and other benefits.

Shavitz Law Group handles lawsuits where companies misclassify workers as independent contractors. If Nike – or another company – misclassified you or someone you know as an independent contractor contact Shavitz Law Group to learn more about your legal rights.