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California Trucking Association taking case over independent contractor law to U.S. Supreme Court

A picture of the supreme court, with the US flag waving in front of the phrase "Equal Justice Under Law"

The California Trucking Association’s (CTA) case against a controversial state independent contractor law is being brought to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The contractor law, or Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5), adopts a new “ABC test” for determining whether a worker must be treated as an employee for purposes of California’s labor laws. The problem, according to CTA’s 2018 lawsuit, is that the test “effectively prohibits motor carriers from using independent contractor drivers.”

CTA said the owner-operators who have offered their services as independent contractors will either have to close their small businesses or cease working in California.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals first rejected CTA’s challenge to AB 5 in April, then declined CTA’s request for a review in June. Now, CTA said in a court filing that it plans to bring its case against AB 5 to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

The 9th Circuit has, however, granted a motion to preserve a previous ruling that exempts the trucking industry from following the law until the Supreme Court weighs in.

Trade organizations representing motor carriers and independent owner-operators have opposed the new law, which would reclassify large numbers of independent contractors as company employees, Miller reported.

“ATA is pleased that the 9th Circuit has blocked enforcement of California’s restrictive independent contractor law while the California Trucking Association appeals the Court’s ruling to the Supreme Court of the United States,” American Trucking Association spokesperson Sean McNally said. “We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will ultimately not only take the case but will see the wisdom of CTA’s argument and reverse the 9th Circuit’s ruling.”

CTA said its Supreme Court review is due on or before Nov. 18, 2021.