On whose dime? Court rules California employers must pay employee cell phone expenses

By Margaret A Keane

In a world where mobile devices outnumber both personal computers and humans, it’s not surprising that we use our mobile devices for both business and pleasure. In a published opinion sure to wreak havoc with workplace bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programmes, the California Court of Appeal has now told employers that if California employees must use their mobile phones for work-related calls, they must be reimbursed a reasonable portion of their mobile phone bills for that use. Colin Cochran v Schwan’s Home Service Inc, Court of Appeal (12 August 2014) (‘an employee need only show that he or she was required to use a personal cell phone to make work-related calls, and he or she was not reimbursed’).

This ruling applied to a class action by service managers seeking reimbursement of work-related mobile phone expenses, but will also apply to smart phones used to access business data in the cloud and on network servers.

To date, the biggest challenges with BYOD policies have related to device security and protection of confidential information, with many employers putting constraints on the use of a device as a trade-off for remote access. The question of who pays now moves to centre stage. Under Cochran, California employers that require employees to use their personal devices to conduct business as a condition of employment will need reimbursement plans or face litigation risk…

Click on the link below to read the rest of the DLA Piper briefing.

Sign in or Register to continue reading this article

Sign in


It's quick, easy and free!

It takes just 5 minutes to register. Answer a few simple questions and once completed you’ll have instant access.

Register now

Why register to The Lawyer


Industry insight

In-depth, expert analysis into the stories behind the headlines from our leading team of journalists.


Market intelligence

Identify the major players and business opportunities within a particular region through our series of free, special reports.


Email newsletters

Receive your pick of The Lawyer's daily and weekly email newsletters, tailored by practice area, region and job function.

More relevant to you

To continue providing the best analysis, insight and news across the legal market we are collecting some information about who you are, what you do and where you work to improve The Lawyer and make it more relevant to you.

Briefings from DLA Piper

View more briefings from DLA Piper

Analysis from The Lawyer

View more analysis from The Lawyer


3 Noble Street

Turnover (£m): 1,566.29
No. of lawyers: 3,961 (UK 200)
Jurisdiction: global
No. of offices: more than 75
No. of qualified lawyers: 542 (International 50)
No. of partners: 142.6