On September 22, 2022, a federal court in San Diego granted the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s request to join the fight against the enforcement of California’s worker classification rule against motor carriers. OOIDA is represented by The Cullen Law Firm, PLLC. OOIDA’s presence in the case means that the interests of tens of thousands of owner-operators and carriers from throughout the United States who haul freight in California will be represented in this critical case.
The ongoing legal challenge to California’s new worker classification rule.
CTA originally sued California to prevent enforcement of AB 5 against the motor carrier industry, arguing that the law—which presumes every worker in California to be an employee for the purpose of the State’s labor code unless certain conditions are met—effectively eliminated the independent owner-operator model in California. CTA argued that federal laws that leave motor carrier regulation to the federal government preempt such a categorical rule and that the rule violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause protections against State interference with interstate commerce. Shortly after CTA filed suit, the court allowed the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to join the case to defend the rule. Thereafter, the district court granted CTA’s request for a preliminary injunction, holding that federal law likely did preempt AB 5’s application to the trucking industry. The State and Teamsters appealed that decision.
OOIDA now joins the case as a plaintiff to represent interstate truckers.
OOIDA moved to join the case in 2021, but the suit was paused at the trial court level while the parties argued the preliminary injunction to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and later petitioned the Supreme Court for review. The Ninth Circuit eventually reversed the district court’s decision, holding that federal law (the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, or “FAAAA”) did not preempt AB 5 as applied to trucking and sent the case back to the district court for resolution on the merits.
Following this reversal, in August, the district court heard arguments as to how it should proceed, including whether the State opposed OOIDA joining the case against AB 5. The State did oppose the motion and later filed a formal response based on the alleged untimeliness of OOIDA’s request.
This week, however, the district court recognized the important interests OOIDA seeks to advance and granted OOIDA’s request. The court noted that there “is no party to the current litigation that primarily represents interstate truck owner-operator independent contractors who want to continue to do business in California.”
The court rejected the State’s argument that OOIDA’s motion was untimely, recognizing the importance of OOIDA’s unique perspective as representatives of interstate truckers whose rights are protected by the Constitution’s Commerce Clause:
“The OOIDA motion was not only timely, but prescient. One week after the filing of its motion to intervene, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed this Court’s order and held, instead, that AB5 was not federally preempted. . . . Because the Commerce Clause question has yet to be fleshed out and because OOIDA members would be the individuals most impacted by enforcement of AB5 among people seeking a livelihood driving their trucks into and out of California, OOIDA is better-suited to prosecute its claim for relief.”
The case against AB 5 is California Trucking Ass’n, et al. v. Bonta, et al., No. 3:18-CV-02458-BEN-DEB in the Southern District of California. The court’s order granting OOIDA’s motion to intervene can be found HERE.
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