Foley & Lardner LLP partner Daniel Kaplan is quoted in the Law360 article, “Remote Work Expenses Boosted Nationwide by Calif. Ruling,” commenting on a recent appellate decision in California which held that the state’s stay-at-home order during the pandemic does not excuse a major company from reimbursing employee remote work expenses.
Kaplan, co-chair of the firm’s Labor & Employment Practice Group, said employers should take the opinion as an alert that they may have to reimburse expenses regardless of the reason someone works remotely.
Kaplan said he could see the court’s reasoning being applied to a scenario that is much more frequent: an employee who is allowed to work from home due to a disability accommodation.
“There is already a law in place that would arguably be a similar intervening cause that may give rise to the requirement for employers to reimburse employees for expenses,” he explained. “That’s the Americans with Disabilities Act.”
The ADA requires employers to accommodate workers’ disabilities, which sometimes can mean letting an employee work remotely. As California statute requires reimbursement for “necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the employee’s discharge of his or her duties,” whether someone works from home due to an accommodation or a government order is irrelevant to it being their job site, Kaplan said.
“That’s where they’re going to discharge their duties,” he added. “Because there will be expenses associated with the discharge of that employee’s duties for the work from home, I have an obligation to reimburse for them.”