No SCOTUS assessment of California legislation’s influence on trucking trade

  • California appeals court docket stated state legislation not preempted by federal laws
  • Trucking agency stated legislation threatens trade’s ‘owner-operator’ mannequin
  • Separate problem nonetheless pending at excessive court docket

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Oct 5 – The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a trucking firm’s claims that California’s strict employee classification legislation is preempted by federal laws governing truckers’ working situations.

The court docket denied a petition for certiorari by Cal Cartage Transportation Express LLC, which claimed a state appeals court docket’s 2020 ruling upholding the legislation often called AB5 threatens the longstanding “owner-operator” mannequin through which drivers who personal their vehicles work as impartial contractors.

The justices have but to think about whether or not to take up an identical problem to AB5 by the California Trucking Association, which is interesting a ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determination that stated the legislation may be utilized to truck drivers.

Monday’s case stemmed from complaints town of Los Angeles filed claiming Cal Cartage and different trucking corporations had unlawfully misclassified drivers as impartial contractors slightly than staff.

The firm stated AB5 is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), which additionally applies to the trucking trade and bars states from enacting legal guidelines that dictate the costs, routes and providers supplied by motor carriers.

The California Court of Appeal, Second District in Los Angeles stated usually relevant legal guidelines could have some oblique results on how corporations function, however fall properly inside states’ powers to manage employment relationships. And AB5 doesn’t mandate using staff for any enterprise, together with trucking corporations, the court docket stated.

Cal Cartage and its attorneys at Gibson Dunn & Crutcher didn’t instantly reply to requests for touch upon Tuesday. Nor did the California lawyer basic’s workplace.

AB5 codified a check created by the California Supreme Court within the 2018 case Dynamex Operations West Inc v. Superior Court. The three-pronged “ABC test” says employees are an organization’s staff if they’re underneath its direct management, engaged in its common course of enterprise, or don’t function their very own impartial companies.

The commonplace has been closely criticized by enterprise teams who say it makes it unimaginable for a lot of corporations to rent impartial contractors, which may also help to comprise prices.

After AB5 took impact in 2020, Los Angeles sought to use it to Cal Cartage within the metropolis’s 2018 lawsuit claiming the corporate had violated state legislation banning unfair competitors by misclassifying drivers.

Cal Cartage in response argued that AB5 made it nearly unimaginable for the corporate to depend on the longstanding owner-operator mannequin. The ensuing results on the corporate’s operations would influence the costs and providers it supplied, making AB5 preempted underneath then FAA, Cal Cartage stated.

A state choose in early 2020 agreed and tossed out the case however the Second District reversed, saying the FAAAA was designed to preempt state legal guidelines that immediately regulate how motor carriers function and never people who merely enhance prices.

Cal Cartage in its April petition for certiorari stated AB5’s influence on trucking corporations is so vital that it finally dictates the costs and providers they will provide.

And truck drivers by definition are engaged in trucking companies’ common course of enterprise, so AB5 precludes them from ever being labeled as impartial contractors, the corporate stated.

Editor’s word: A earlier model of this text incorrectly acknowledged that the Supreme Court had denied certiorari in a separate lawsuit introduced by the California Trucking Association.

California court docket says truckers exempt from gig employee legislation

Daniel Wiessner

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) studies on labor and employment and immigration legislation, together with litigation and coverage making. He may be reached at

REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado