CA Federal Judge Refuses to Dismiss Amazon Employee’s Work-at-Home Expense Reimbursement Suit

A California federal district court judge denied Amazon’s motion to dismiss a unique proposed class action lawsuit over reimbursement for an employee’s work-at-home-related expenses. The judge did dismiss a claim based on the Unfair Competition Law, but the aggrieved employee may amend this claim. 

David G. Williams, a senior software development engineer, filed his proposed class action and Private Attorneys General Act suit in March 2021 in Santa Cruz Superior Court. In his suit, Williams alleged that state labor laws required Amazon to reimburse its employees for work-related expenses when it expected them to continue working from home after COVID-related government lockdown orders went into effect. Williams seeks to represent a class of California residents who worked for Amazon while offices closed for at least one pay period from March 15, 2020, to the present. 

Amazon removed the suit to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California and filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Williams hadn’t stated a valid claim for reimbursement under state law since it was the government, not Amazon, that told him to keep working from home. Amazon alleged that Williams did not submit reimbursement requests for the estimated $50 to $100 each month incurred by him and other work-at-home employees for space, electricity, and Internet connectivity costs. 

The federal judge rejected Amazon’s main arguments, stating that since Amazon expected its workers to continue working from home after the government imposed stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, the company had to be aware that the employees had necessary personal expenditures to be able to do their jobs. In addition, California law requires employers to reimburse employees for their home office expenses while working from home. 

The case is David G. Williams V. Services LLC et al., case number 3:22-cv-01892, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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