Appeals court reverses AB 5 protections for truckers - Spidell

Appeals court reverses AB 5 protections for truckers


In January 2020, a U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction blocking California from enforcing AB 5’s ABC worker classification test against motor carriers and independent owner–operators conducting business in the state. (California Trucking Association, et al. v. Becerra (December 31, 2019) U.S. Dist. Ct., Southern Dist. of Calif., Case Nos. 2:19-cv-10645, 3:18-cv-02458-BEN-BLM) The injunction effectively blocked California from treating these workers as employees rather than independent contractors, at least temporarily.

On April 28, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit overturned the lower court’s decision. The Ninth Circuit ruled that the California Trucking Association was unlikely to succeed on the merits with respect to its claim that AB5 is preempted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act and the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA). (California Trucking Association v. Rob Bonta (April 28, 2021) U.S. Court of Appeal, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 3:18-cv-02458)

This means the injunction is overturned, although not immediately. The parties have 14 days to seek a rehearing and up to 150 days to petition the U.S. Supreme Court.

There is now a split in the circuits, where the First Circuit decided the application of the ABC test was preempted by the FAAAA. (Schwann v. FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. (2016) 813 F.3d 429)