Last week the U.S. Supreme Court denied the request to hear the appeal of a case which ultimately resolves the worker classification rules for truckers in California that had been challenged since September 2019 when Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) was enacted to codify the ruling in a case that said a worker is presumed to be an employee unless the hiring entity satisfies a three-factor “ABC” test. After nearly four years of appeals, AB 5 is upheld and may be enforced against any motor carrier doing business in the state.
As a reminder, the three factors of the ABC test, all of which must be satisfied are A) The worker must be free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; B) The worker must perform work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and C) The worker must customarily be engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.
Recall that after AB 5 was enacted, just three months later in December 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California issued a preliminary injunction stopping the enforcement of AB 5 by California against any motor carrier doing business in California. California Trucking Association et al. v. Becerra et al., No. 3:18-cv-02458-BEN-BLM (S.D. Cal. 2019). This decision was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which ultimately in April of 2021 reversed the prior court’s preliminary injunction. California Trucking Association et al. v. Bonta et al., No. 20-55106 (9th Cir. 2021).
Not satisfied with that result, the Opinion was appealed to the United States Supreme Court, however the Supreme Court has denied certiorari, which means less than four Supreme Court justices decided the circumstances of the decision of the lower court warrant a review by the Supreme Court.
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