Woman alleges workers deserve home internet expense reimbursement

Working from home has become the norm for many people this year. | Photo by Tina Witherspoon on Unsplash

A game technology studio is being sued by an employee who alleges that she and other workers are wrongfully being denied reimbursement for personal internet expenses for work done at home.

Meghan O’Sullivan’s proposed Los Angeles Superior Court class-action lawsuit against Mythical Games states that she and her co-workers have been ordered to work from their residences for more than two years rather than come into the company’s Sherman Oaks office, where the company develops video games and platforms. O’Sullivan was hired last November as an executive assistant.

The suit was brought under the state’s Private Attorneys General Act, which authorizes allegedly aggrieved employees to file lawsuits to recover civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees and the state for purported Labor Code violations.

“To be clear, Mythical sent home all of their employees, including the plaintiff, during the period from around March 13, 2020, to the present, to conduct their work from home, and did so without affirmatively reimbursing them with monthly stipends or otherwise for a reasonable portion of their monthly home internet expenses,” the suit states. “To the contrary, Mythical advised that home internet expenses were not reimbursable despite the fact that employees needed to use their home internet to do their jobs.”

A Mythical Games representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The suit brought Friday does not state why Mythical employees were told to work from home, but March 2020 was the start of the closure of many in-person business operations due to coronavirus safety concerns.

According to Mythical Games’ travel and entertainment policy, expenses relating to the internet, cable and wireless services at employees’ homes are typically not reimbursable and are issued on a case-by-case basis, the suit states.

Mythical Games’ chief people officer, Cassandra Kaiser, explained in an email to employees that the company does not provide compensation for internet expenses “given (that) most employees would already have internet as a part of their daily lives and additionally most employees are no longer incurring the costs to commute,” the suit states.

But the suit states that under California law, employers must reimburse a reasonable percentage of employees’ expenses in such cases as O’Sullivan’s, even if their workers have unlimited data plans and have incurred no increase in costs.

O’Sullivan seeks to represent a class comprised of her and all other California residents who are or were employed by Mythical and who worked from home for at least one pay period at any point from March 13, 2020, to the present, with a few limited exceptions, such as those working in human resources.

Eligible employees are each entitled to at least $50 a month in expenses dating back to March 2020, the suit states.

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