Labor Code sections 2800 and 2802 require an employer to indemnify an employee for expenses incurred on the job. There are some qualifications to this, however, so someone will need to review the policy and the case law related to these statutes. Because of the low dollar amount involved, I suggest you first try to research this on the Department of Labor Standards and Enforcement web site http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/Manual-Instructions.htm or perhaps telephone the DLSE for more guidance. If this doesn't help, you may need to speak with an attorney. You may be entitled to reimbursement for attorney's fees.
To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org, and you can search for attorneys by location and practice area.
I've pasted the two statutes below:
2800. An employer shall in all cases indemnify his employee for
losses caused by the employer's want of ordinary care.
2802. (a) An employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all
necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct
consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her
obedience to the directions of the employer, even though unlawful,
unless the employee, at the time of obeying the directions, believed
them to be unlawful.
(b) All awards made by a court or by the Division of Labor
Standards Enforcement for reimbursement of necessary expenditures
under this section shall carry interest at the same rate as judgments
in civil actions. Interest shall accrue from the date on which the
employee incurred the necessary expenditure or loss.
(c) For purposes of this section, the term "necessary expenditures
or losses" shall include all reasonable costs, including, but not
limited to, attorney's fees incurred by the employee enforcing the
rights granted by this section.
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
Generally not reimbursing an employee for otherwise reimbursable expenses due to an internally set deadline is against the law. You can submit a wage claim through your local Department of Labor Standards Enforcement unit. The process is simple and free. Just google DLSE and look for a link on how to file a wage claim.