The Cullen Law Firm, PLLC filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (“OOIDA”) in support of the preliminary injunction currently preventing California from enforcing the state’s new worker classification law AB 5. The United States District Court for the Southern District of California imposed the injunction earlier this year in response to the California Trucking Association’s legal challenge AB 5. California and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters appealed the district court’s injunction decision, and OOIDA’s brief was filed in opposition to this appeal.
As previously discussed on this blog, AB 5 threatens to upend the owner-operator model if not eliminate it in its entirety, at least for any trucking business conducted in California. That is because AB 5 prohibits the use of independent contractors unless “the person performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.” Most owner-operators are not in a different business than their motor carrier.
AB 5’s impact will not be limited to California. Although it was enacted to amend California labor laws, AB 5 failed to take into account the inherently interstate nature of the motor carrier industry. Thus, an owner-operator that spends any time inside California may still be subject to the law, even if they are based outside of California. AB 5 not only threatens the owner-operator model, it also imposes undue burdens on interstate commerce, which owner-operators are critical for facilitating.
OOIDA, a national organization with approximately 160,000 members that advocates for the rights of truck drivers, filed its amicus brief to ensure that the Ninth Circuit considers the interests of owner-operators, not just large motor carriers, in its deliberations. While acknowledging that it can be difficult for truck drivers to realize the full benefits of the owner-operator model, OOIDA demonstrated how owner-operators are the backbone of the national motor carrier industry and how limiting owner-operators’ access to California will have consequences for truck drivers throughout the nation.
Although worker misclassification is a serious issue and states should be free to enact laws to protect the rights of truck drivers, AB 5 simply does far more damage to owner-operators than it might solve. OOIDA’s amicus brief can be read in full here.
The Ninth Circuit is unlikely to issue a decision until late 2020 if not early next year. In the meantime, the preliminary injunction will remain in place. Regardless of the Ninth Circuit’s decision, the legal challenge to AB 5 will continue. With other states closely watching the outcome in California, it is also possible that the fight against similar laws will spread to other states.
For more information about OOIDA’s amicus brief, the current state of the AB 5 litigation, or similar laws being considered by other states, please contact:
Gregory R. Reed (202) 298-4767 firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul D. Cullen, Jr. (202) 944-8600 email@example.com