Do-I-Get-Reimbursed-For-That.jpg (2149×1159)Plenty of jobs require you to buy things, and companies will often make you pay for things that the company needs. But that raises an important point: doesn’t the business have to reimburse you?

The answer is yes, and there are particular methods that are approved for doing so.

Section 2802

In 1937, California enacted section 2802 in the Labor Code in order to prevent employers from making employees pay the company’s business expenses. This section states that the employer shall ‘indemnify’ an employee for any expenses or losses that the employee has to take on because of the tasks involved in the job or that the boss orders the employee to take them. This rule states that the employer must repay the employee for their expenses even if the task that the employee is doing is illegal unless the employee knows at the time that it is illegal. The only restraint on the costs are that they have to be ‘reasonable’ and directly work-related.

This rule was updated in 2000, and it stays on the books pretty much unchanged. The Division of Labor Standards is supposed to enforce this rule.


Most states don’t actually require the employer to reimburse an employee for mileage that they drove in the course of their duties unless not doing so means that the employee is making less than minimum wage. California is the exception. We do require mileage reimbursement of under Section 2802 of the California Labor Code. In 1985, the Labor Commissioner sent out an Interpretive Bulletin of the law stating that an employer that makes an employee use his or her own car in the course of has to reimburse the expense that are unavoidable in the execution of the job.

This was brought home and clarified by a lawsuit between a man named Frank Gattuso and a California company called Harte-Hanks Shopper. Harte-Hanks reimburses its sales staff with a combination of commissions on sales and a base salary. Even though part of their sales team has to drive to customers to make sales, the company doesn’t reimburse mileage. The Labor Commissioner’s Interpretive Bulletin had said merely that the employee must be reimbursed ‘necessary expenses’ and that, in the absence of a particular agreement between employer and employee, it can be any ‘reasonable amount.’ Harte-Hanks claimed that the commissions and base pay were enough to cover the expense involved.

The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and it was ruled that an employer could reimburse the employee by 3 methods: they could have the employer and employee track every expense that the employee incurs while driving the car and reimburse the employee for that amount, the employer could pay the employee an amount based on the miles driven by the employee, or the employer could pay a predetermined car allowance in a lump sum. If the first 2 options are used, than the employer can use the IRS mileage rate to determine the amount that they owe the employee, or they can negotiate any rate that fully reimburses the employee.

Other Expenses

An employee that is required to keep a home office, then the employer could be liable for printing and office supplies. If you have to use your cell phone for work, your employer could have to reimburse some of that expense, too. Basically, anything you pay for during the ‘course and scope’ of your job.

Waivers Are Null And Void

These reimbursements are necessary. Section 2804 of the California Labor Code specifically prohibits any ‘contract or agreement, express or implied’ that waives the right to reimbursement.


You have the right to contest whether the reimbursement is reasonable, and you can report any employer that doesn’t follow the rules to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. The Division can levy penalties to repay you and issue a citation against an employer who is breaking the law. They will even charge interest.

Of course, you can also take the case to court, just like Frank Gattuso. The court can then have you reimburse you and issue a citation against your boss.

If you want to know more about what you can get reimbursement for, contact Aiman-Smith & Marcy. We’re a boutique company that specializes in employment law, as well as consumer fraud and class actions.

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Lisseth Bayona


Education and Background

I am a Los Angeles native and daughter of Salvadorian immigrants. From an early age, my parents instilled the value of hard work and education in me and my two siblings. Their perseverance enabled each of us to graduate from college and earn professional degrees.

My interest and commitment to workers’ rights have roots in my parents’ experiences as undocumented workers in Los Angeles. Witnessing the challenges they faced inspired me to pursue a career where I can help individuals confronted with similar struggles. To help someone in those moments is very satisfying. I love connecting with people and learning about their stories. I believe that dignity in the workplace is a right of all workers, not a convenience or privilege reserved for employees of a certain race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

Legal Experience

I received my J.D. from the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law. While there, I served as a judicial extern to the Honorable Patrick J. Walsh of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, where I drafted a criminal judicial opinion. Also, while at Gould, I served as an extern for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. As a Criminal Division Extern, I had the opportunity to work closely with a trial team of Assistant U.S. Attorneys on a money laundering case which further sparked my interest in litigation.

Personal Interests

In my free time, I enjoy urban vegetable gardening, traveling, and spending time with my nephew and niece. I also love to spend time at San Onofre Beach learning to surf, although admittedly, I am not very good.



Hallie L. Von Rock

Attorney (SBN 233152)

Education and Background

I moved to the Bay Area from Washington after graduating high school. I had been accepted to UC Berkeley through a program where I could defer for two years while getting my California residency and attending community college, which was significant since I was paying for college on my own. I began working for Randall Aiman-Smith and Reed Marcy in 1996 as an office manager while taking night classes. My first foray into the legal world was soon after starting at the firm when I was ready to transfer to UC Berkeley. Rather than accepting my resident status, the Board of Regents took the position that California residency required a student to be in California “two calendar years.” Randall and Reed took up my case with the same verve as they helped their actual clients and I got the chance to comb through the UC Berkeley library to read their codes and regulations to support my position. In that experience, I learned what is was like to feel helpless against a big organization and then to have dedicated attorneys in my corner to take up my cause.

After a break to pursue my major in art history, I went to UC Hastings College of Law and continued working with Randall and Reed. Having worked together now for over 25 years, we have a unique ability to work collaboratively and finish each other’s sentences. I have strived throughout my career to make a difference in the lives of our clients. At the end of the day, if I am helping someone to get compensation for losses they suffered, then I know that all the work put into a case has been worth it.

Legal Experience

I have extensive experience in civil litigation and class action cases, including conducting discovery and depositions, calculating damages analysis, preparing motions for certification, writing appellate documents, and overseeing claims administration. We have handled several class actions against retailers where plaintiffs claimed they were forced to purchase clothing to wear to work and were not compensated for these purchases, including against Abercrombie & Fitch, Hugo Boss, Armani Exchange, Uniqlo, Dollar Tree, and Ross. Recently, I was trial counsel in a defamation claim against Bank of America on behalf of a former employee who claimed the Bank blacklisted her with future employers. The jury found Bank of America liable, including for punitive damages.

Personal Interests

Aiman-Smith & Marcy has sponsored me in the Boston Marathon and New York Marathon. When I race, I often wear a “Rockstar Ronan” shirt to support research for childhood cancer through The Ronan Thompson Foundation.


University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1999

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, J.D., 2004

Randall Aiman-Smith

Abogado (SBN 124599)

Aiman-Smith & Marcy. Oakland consumer fraud attorneys.

Educación y antecedentes

Fui afortunado. A pesar de no haber terminado la escuela secundaria o la universidad, pude -aunque con mucho trabajo- ser admitido y sobresalir en una de las mejores escuelas de derecho del país: La Facultad de Derecho de la Universidad de Berkeley. Mientras estuve allí, tuve el privilegio de ser editor de la California Law Review y miembro del Moot Court Board, asesorando en la redacción de escritos y en la defensa de apelaciones a otros estudiantes. Después de salir de la escuela de derecho, en mis primeros años de práctica, enseñé la escritura legal y la defensa de apelación en la Universidad de California, Hastings College of the Law. También, a lo largo de los años, he sido presentador en eventos de educación legal continua.

Experiencia legal

He sido abogado durante 35 años. He dedicado mi práctica exclusivamente a representar a empleados, consumidores e inversores en los tribunales estatales y federales de primera instancia y en los tribunales de apelación. Me gusta ir a los tribunales por mis clientes y he llevado muchos casos con jurado en los tribunales estatales y federales.

¿Ejemplos? En 2010, fui la abogada principal, junto con los otros abogados del bufete, en el caso Williams v. Union Pacific Railroad donde, después de cuatro años de preparación, el bufete obtuvo un veredicto del jurado de 1.670.000 dólares para una empleada afroamericana. En Rivero v. Surdyka, fui el abogado principal en el juicio y la apelación de un caso de derechos civiles que duró 15 años, incluyendo un juicio completo y tres apelaciones al Noveno Circuito, concluyendo finalmente con una sentencia para los demandantes de más de 2.300.000 dólares. Estos casos ilustran el lema del bufete: compromiso – resultados. Hay que comprometerse con un caso, a veces durante mucho tiempo, para obtener el resultado que el cliente merece.

No siempre ganamos en el juicio. Cuando eso ocurre, el compromiso significa llevar el caso al siguiente nivel y recurrirlo. En el caso Rivero, antes mencionado, eso fue lo que ocurrió: el tribunal desestimó el caso -habíamos perdido- pero apelamos y conseguimos una victoria para nuestros clientes que mantuvimos a través de dos apelaciones más. Desde entonces, el bufete ha conseguido muchas victorias en apelación que reivindican los derechos de los empleados y los consumidores.

A lo largo de los años he sido abogado de los demandantes en numerosos casos individuales y acciones colectivas. Puede sonar cursi, o difícil de creer, pero después de todo este tiempo, y después de todas las grandes experiencias que he tenido, mi parte favorita de ser abogado es cuando consigo dar un cheque a mi cliente.



Facultad de Derecho, Universidad de California, Berkeley, J.D., 1986