Court of Appeal Helps Reduce Conflict over Paying Cell Phone Bills

The California Court of Appeal, in Colin Cochran v. Schwan’s Home Service, Inc., No. B247160, August 12, 2014, has held that employees who are required to use their personal cell phones for work are entitled to reimbursement by the employer of a reasonable percentage of the employee’s cell phone bill. It doesn’t matter if the bill is paid by a third person, and the details of the employee’s cell phone plan are not to be considered in the analysis of liability. Otherwise, the court reasoned, “the employer would receive a windfall because it would be passing its operating expenses onto the employee.” (Slip op., p. 7)

Hooray! I can’t tell you how frustrating it has been to have to pay my kids’ full cell phone bill, along with extra charges due to the demands of their full time jobs. I keep asking them to ask their employers for reimbursement of cell phone charges, but they have been reluctant to rock the boat. I’ve been thinking I need someone to mediate the problem, both between me and my kids on this thorny subject, and between the kids and their employers because it’s uncomfortable for new hires to ask for more compensation.

Now those of us who are still including our kids on our family cell phone plans can look for some relief, assuming the kids are willing to pass the reimbursement on to us. (Uh huh. Sure.)

You can read the full opinion here: