California Trucking Association Petitions U.S. Supreme Court Over AB 5

By Cary G. Palmer © Jackson Lewis August 31, 2021
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truck driver behind the wheel.

In April, a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the application of California's AB 5 to motor carriers is not pre-empted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (FAAAA). The panel found the district court abused its discretion by granting a preliminary injunction. The panel concluded that AB 5 is a generally applicable labor law that affects a motor carrier's relationship with its workforce and does not bind, compel or otherwise freeze into place the prices, routes or services of motor carriers.

The California Trucking Association (CTA) recently filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court.  The petition requests the Supreme Court weigh in on whether the FAAAA pre-empts the application to motor carriers of a state worker-classification law that effectively precludes motor carriers from using independent owner-operators to provide trucking services.

CTA argues the question warrants review because the courts of appeal and state courts disagree about the pre-emption issue.  Moreover, CTA argues the FAAAA was created to avoid a patchwork of state service-determining laws, acting to ensure that trucking rates, routes and services would reflect competitive market forces. Finally, CTA argued that the application of AB 5 to owner-operators will "up-end the trucking industry's longstanding business model" and "will destroy the uniformity necessary for the free flow of interstate commerce and the operation of nationwide business."

The injunction imposed against enforcement of AB 5 pertaining to motor carriers will remain in place pending the Supreme Court's decision on CTA's petition.

Cary G. Palmer is an attorney with Jackson Lewis in Sacramento, Calif. © 2021 Jackson Lewis. All rights reserved. Reposted with permission. 

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