It shouldn’t cost you anything to do your job.  Under Labor Code Section 2802, employers are required to indemnify workers for all expenses related to performing your duties. 

Work Related Expenses

If your employer requires you do drive for work, (like running office errands) but doesn’t reimburse you sufficiently for driving-related expenses such as gas, you may have a potential lawsuit against your workplace for failure to reimburse for all expenses.  Other common employer mistakes in this area include:

  1. Requiring employees to buy uniforms with the company logo on them, when the uniform isn’t suitable as regular clothing.
  2. Requiring employees to care for and maintain a uniform, but not paying the costs of maintenance.
  3. Requiring that employees buy tools or equipment for their jobs.
  4. Requiring employees to make up for register shortages, such as when a restaurant customer leaves without paying. (Or threatening the employee with a write-up if they don’t).
  5. Requiring employees to buy products sold by their employer – such a clothing, so that the employee can “demonstrate” their support for the product.
  6. Requiring employees to supply their own protective equipment, such as hard hats or respirator masks.
  7. Requiring employees to use their personal cell phone for work.

Many sales employees are expected to buy things from their employer if they don’t make their sales target for the day.  Sometimes, management will pressure employees by saying if bad sales numbers continue, the store could be closed.

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Often, people want to know if their employer owes them for those khaki pants they had to buy for their retail job, or the black pants they were required to wear for their waitressing gig.  The short answer is that if you weren’t required to buy them from a certain provider, and it doesn’t have the employer’s name or company logo on it, it’s probably fine for your employer to require it.  That’s true even if you’d never have bought khaki pants but for the job requirement.  Because those pants are generally useable for other things, they don’t have to be reimbursed.  The same is true for those rubber soled nurses’shoes you’d never have purchased if you didn’t work at a hospital.  As usual, with employment law cases, the details matter.

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