The Massachusetts Delivery Association’s members won the right to use independent contractors, the organization announced in this instance. A judge ruled last week that federal law preempts the state’s independent contractor law.
“This case will enable those in the courier and trucking industries to choose the business models that are most efficient and responsive to the needs of the American business community and American consumers without interference from the 50 states,” said David Casey, the attorney who represented the association. Casey is also the co-chair, appellate practice group, Littler Mendelson.
Massachusetts law allows for independent contractors only as long as they perform services “outside the usual course of the employer’s business,” according to a review of the case by Littler Mendelson. However, the judge ruled the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 pre-empts the state law as applied to same-day delivery services such as those provided by members of the Massachusetts Delivery Association. The federal law prohibits states from “enforcing laws or regulations that are related to a price, route or service of any motor carrier with respect to the transportation of property.” The law is aimed at allowing motor carriers to operate without inconsistent state regulation.
Last week’s ruling overturns an earlier ruling in 2013 against the association.
“This ruling is a victory for everyone in the motor carrier industry that relies on independent contractors to satisfy fluctuating demand,” said Aaron Driben, president of the Massachusetts Delivery Association.
“Had the 2013 ruling been affirmed it would have had a severe impact on our labor costs and force many of our members to either increase their prices to consumers or go out of business,” Driben said. “We fought that decision because we knew that once the court considered both the facts and their own past decisions they would favor our ability to use independent contractors to meet customer demands efficiently and cost-effectively. We prevailed in the First Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 on related issues, and we felt confident that that decision laid the groundwork for this ruling.”