In Townley v. BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., the Court of Appeal Considers Whether Employer Must Reimburse Cost of Slip-Resistant Shoes

In Townley v. BJ’s Restaurants, Inc., the Court of Appeal Considers Whether Employer Must Reimburse Cost of Slip-Resistant Shoes

| Jul 9, 2019 | Court Decisions, Wage & Hour |

In Townley v. BJ’s Restaurants, Inc. (pub. ord. July 8, 2019), the Court of Appeal considered whether summary judgment was properly entered for the employer in a lawsuit alleging violation of Labor Code Private Attorneys General Act of 2004 (Lab. Code, § 2698 et seq.; “PAGA”) for failure to reimburse employees for the cost of purchasing slip-resistant shoes.  The plaintiff contended that the cost of slip-resistant should have been reimbursed as “necessary expenditures . . . incurred by the employee[s] in direct consequence of the discharge of [their] duties.”  Labor Code § 2802(a).  The Court of Appeal (Third Appellate District) disagreed, concluding that Section 2802 imposed no such requirement:

We conclude that BJ’s is not required, as a matter of law, to reimburse its employees for the cost of the slip-resistant shoes at issue in this case under section 2802.  The cost of the shoes does not qualify as a “necessary expenditure” within the meaning of the statute.  Here, like in Lemus, Townley has not argued that the slip-resistant shoes she was required to purchase were part of a uniform or were not usual and generally usable in the restaurant occupation.  Further, she does not cite any authority holding that an employer is required, under section 2802, to reimburse an employee for basic, non-uniform wardrobe items, such as the slip-resistant shoes at issue in this case.

Slip op., at 8.  According to the Court, black, non-slip shoes that can be worn outside of work and in restaurants generally are not part of a “uniform” that the employer must purchase or reimburse.

The determination of what wardrobe items constitute reimbursable uniform expenditures is not always easy to determine.  If you have questions about whether any purchases you made for your employer should have been reimbursed, Moon & Yang can help you make that determination.