The US Supreme Court declines truckers’ AB 5 case; California legislature extends AB 5 exemptions for certain job types.

Truckers case. The US Supreme Court on Monday declined to take up a trucking company’s claims that California’s strict worker classification law is preempted by federal regulations governing truckers’ working conditions, Reuters reported.

Cal Cartage Transportation Express LLC claimed AB 5 is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act (FAAAA), which also applies to the trucking industry and bars states from enacting laws that dictate the prices, routes and services offered by motor carriers.

According to Cal Cartage, a state appeals court’s 2020 ruling upholding AB 5 threatens the longstanding “owner-operator” model in which drivers who own their trucks work as independent contractors. The Supreme court denied its petition on Oct. 5.

The case is similar to one in which the California Trucking Association and two California independent owner-operator truck drivers argue that AB 5 violates federal law because it is preempted by the supremacy and commerce clauses in the US Constitution and is in direct conflict with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act and the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (F4A).

In April, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction the association had secured against the law, ruling truck drivers should be classified as employees and in June denied a request for a rehearing by the full court. However, the injunction was left in place as the trucking association prepared to appeal the case to the US Supreme Court. It filed its appeal in August. That case is still pending.

AB 5 extension. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed Assembly Bill 1561 to extend the sunset dates on the exemptions granted to licensed manicurists and construction trucking subcontractors from the provisions of AB 5, JD Supra reports. The exemptions will now sunset on Jan. 1, 2025, a three-year extension.

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