SAN DIEGO – A federal judge last week ruled that California’s freelance truckers are exempt from the state’s new Assembly Bill 5 gig economy law – for now.
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California ordered a temporary exemption for freelance truck drivers across the Golden State. Benitez will now consider a permanent injunction.
“The court finds that plaintiffs’ requested temporary restraining order is warranted,” Benitez wrote in his ruling.
The judge declared that his decision was in the public’s interest based on the California Trucking Association's (CTA) argument that the bill clashes with laws surrounding interstate commerce.
The ruling was a huge win for truckers as the CTA last month filed a motion for preliminary injunction to cease enforcement of AB5 on the industry altogether.
The bill, which took effect at the turn of the year, places more restrictions on employers from classifying workers as contractors.
Independent truckers still must make one final push for permanent exception from this law.
“Our motion to file a preliminary injunction with the Southern District Court was executed to prevent any irreparable damage from befalling the 70,000 independent owner-operators, which will occur when AB 5 goes into effect on Jan 1, 2020,” said Shawn Yadon, CEO of the CTA in a December statement. “We have a court case currently underway, which presents the federal protections California truckers have that preempt AB 5, and until our case is heard, these truckers need to be able to continue supporting the vitality of our state’s commerce.”
Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who authored AB5, released a statement in response to the ruling:
“For decades, trucking companies have profited from misclassifying drivers as independent contractors, taking away rights such as meal and rest periods and fair pay,” she wrote. “We expect they will continue to invest resources in protecting their profits earned on the backs of workers, but we will continue to fight them at all levels to return jobs in the trucking industry to good, middle class careers.”
A hearing on the permanent injunction for truck drivers will take place Monday, Jan. 13. Additionally, Uber, Postmates and the American Society of Freelance Journalists and Authors are among other notable organizations to challenge the bill.