Townley v. BJs Restaurants
New California case #Townleyv.BJsRestaurants, holds employers are not required to reimburse employees for the cost of slip- resistant shoes as “#necessaryexpenditures” under #LaborCode2802.
Recent CaseA recent California case, Townley v. BJ's Restaurants, decided the issue of whether employers are required to reimburse employees for the cost of slip-resistant shoes as “necessary expenditures” under Labor Code section 2802. Townley, a server at BJ’s, sued her employer on behalf of herself and other aggrieved employees because it had a safety policy which required all hourly employees to wear black, slip-resistant, close-toed shoes, but did not reimburse employees for the purchase of the shoes. In deciding this issue, the Court of Appeal was persuaded by an almost identical (but unpublished) case Lemus v. Denny’s Inc. (9th Cir. 2015) 617 Fed.Appx. 701.
Tie In To LemusIn Lemus, the Ninth Circuit held that Labor Code section 2802 (which requires an employer to reimburse employees “for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties . . .”) did not require Denny’s to reimburse the cost of its employees’ slip-resistant footwear. The plaintiff did not present any authority that applied Labor Code section 2802 in a way that required the employer to pay for non-uniform work clothing. California law requires employers to pay for employees’ work clothing when it is considered a “uniform” or “qualified as certain protective apparel regulated by Cal/OSHA.” [Id. at 703.] Further, the Lemus court explained that the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement “DLSE” has clarified that employers are not required to furnish basic wardrobe items that are “usable and generally usable in the occupation, such as white shirts, dark pants and black shoes and belts, all of unspecified designed . . .” [Id.]
Here, like Lemus, Plaintiff could not establish that the slip-resistant shoes were part of BJ’s uniform or were not “generally useable in the restaurant occupation.” BJ’s policy did not require its employees to purchase a specific brand, style, or design of slip-resistant shoes, nor did it prohibit its employees from wearing their shoes outside of work. As such, the cost of the shoes did not qualify as a “necessary expenditure” within the meaning of Labor Code section 2802.