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Eric Fox Comments on Implications of California Appellate Court Ruling on Remote Work Expenses in Law360 Article

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Eric Fox, San Diego-based of counsel in the Quarles & Brady Labor, Employment and Benefits Practice Group, was quoted in a Law360 article about the significance of a recent ruling in California’s First Appellate District regarding a company’s obligation to reimburse employee for remote work expenses.

The court’s ruling held that the fact that employees were working from home during the COVID pandemic because of a state mandate, rather than one for the company, did not remove the company’s obligations under the California Labor Code. In the article, which looked at potential implications of the ruling for employers, Fox addressed the steps employers can take to put some guardrails in place.

An excerpt:

Eric Fox, who counsels employers as of counsel at Quarles & Brady LLP, said the reimbursement requirement is broad, but it doesn't obligate companies to cover anything someone says they need to do their jobs.

"There is a reasonableness standard here," he said. "What is actually necessary to do the job?"

The statute defines "necessary expenditures or losses" as those that are "reasonable." The court noted in a footnote that its opinion doesn't address how to determine whether an employee's expense meets that standard.

But Fox said employers can erect safeguards to rein in runaway expenses by setting up a system for reimbursement. Requiring employees to obtain items from a corporate retail portal can keep the process more streamlined than having them go to stores they choose, he said.

A company can create a safety net by requiring employees to submit receipts if they make purchases on their own, he said.

"One of the defenses is we didn't know you were making this expense, so we can't be held liable for something we did not know you were doing," he said.

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