Last updated 10/31/2019
Is it lawful for employers to force employees to pay for their own parking — even in a lot owned by the employer? Afraid so.
No section of labor law mandates that employers must provide any kind of parking for employees, let alone free parking. Of course, providing that kind of perk is advisable for an employer that wants to keep its workers content. But not all employers care about such things.
If the employer leases its parking from a third party, then it might make more sense for them to ask employees to pay their own way. Charging employees to park on property owned by the employer might seem tacky, but employers might counter that the fees collected go toward maintaining the parking area.
Your situation might be different if you have a disability — or it might not. The Americans With Disabilities Act requires employers to provide employment benefits such as parking. If, however, an employer doesn't provide parking for all of its employees, it does not typically need to provide parking for disabled employees.
The issue of employee parking has been a contentious one at times. In 2006, a California appellate court ruled that the Disney Corp. didn't have to pay employees for the time they spent riding on a shuttle that took them from an employee parking lot to the Disneyland amusement park, which was a mile away.
Complicating matters is that a federal law put into effect in 2018 (the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act) takes away the tax deduction benefit that was once offered to employers that subsidized their employees' transit and parking expenses.
Regardless of who owns the parking ramp or lot you use, parking can be an expensive proposition. If your employer is charging you for parking on property it owns, it might be worthwhile to ask them to look into alternatives. Those might include offering discounted tickets for whatever mass transit is available where you work, or offering financial incentives to carpoolers.