A California appellate court recently addressed whether BJ’s Restaurants (BJ’s) improperly failed to reimburse its employees for the purchase of slip-resistant shoes.
Server Krista Townley sued on behalf of herself and other similarly-affected hourly co-workers alleging BJ’s Restaurants (BJ’s) required them to wear black, slip-resistant, close-toed shoes for safety reasons without supplying or reimbursing the footwear. Townley alleged BJ’s actions violated California Labor Code section 2802 requiring employers to reimburse workers for all necessary expenses incurred as part of the job.
BJ’s argued that although all hourly restaurant employees had to wear such footwear to avoid slip and fall accidents, the company did not instruct its workers to purchase a specific brand, style, or design of shoes, and did not prohibit wearing these shoes outside of work.
The California Court of Appeal sided with BJ’s, concluding that the cost of the slip-resistant shoes does not qualify as a “necessary expenditure” because they were basic, non-uniform wardrobe items.
Moral: employers should implement policies and practices to properly address all work-related expense reimbursements.