Unreimbursed Work Expenses

California Wage and Hour Laws – Unreimbursed Expenses

California law is very protective of the employees working in this state, especially when it comes to their wages earned and hours worked. The source of this law is the California Labor Code and the regulations created by the Industrial Welfare Commission.

Want to File a Civil Lawsuit to Recover Unreimbursed Job Expenses?

If you are interested in filing a civil lawsuit, you very likely will need legal representation. Strauss Law Group usually represents employees on a contingency basis, meaning that we only get paid if we win. Contact Strauss Law Group now for a free case evaluation or call us 24/7 at (805) 641-9992 or (877) 641-9992 (toll free).

Overview of Tool and Uniform Expenses Law

When tools or equipment are required by the employer or are necessary to the performance of a job, such tools and equipment shall be provided and maintained by the employer, unless the employee makes more than two times the minimum wage.

When an employer requires an employee to wear a uniform at work, the employer must pay for and launder the uniform. In lieu of actually laundering the uniform, the employer may also pay the employee for the cost of washing it.

If an employer violates either the tools or uniforms requirements, it must reimburse the employee for his or her out-of-pocket expenses (i.e., repay the employee for buying the tools or uniform).

Overview of Travel Time Reimbursement

Non-exempt California employees must be reimbursed for all job-related travel. The rate of pay may differ for travel time than for regular hourly work. However, many employers fail to pay for all travel time. Remember, employers must not only pay for mileage, but they must also pay for the employee’s time traveling. For example, if an employee drives 20 miles for work, which takes her 30 minutes, the employer must reimburse the employee for 20 miles of mileage and for 30 minutes of travel time.

Penalties for the Non-Payment of Wages

In any action for unpaid wages, if it can be shown that the employer willfully refused to pay for work expenses, including tools, uniforms, or travel, the employer can be held liable for penalties. These penalties include 30 days of pay for each aggrieved employee.


  • Worker prevails on a claim for missed meal periods and can show that the employer acted willfully in denying the meal periods. Worker was making $45,000 a year in salary and she worked eight-hour days. Based on this information, Worker’s “regular” rate would be approximately $21.60, so her penalties would be 30 days x 8 hours x $21.60 per hour, or $5,184.

Contact Strauss Law Group for a FREE unreimbursed expenses case evaluation.

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