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New California Gig Worker Law Blocked by Federal Judge

On Behalf of | Mar 17, 2020 | Employment Law

US District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego has blocked the new California labor law from applying to over 70,000 independent truckers for an indefinite period. The federal judge decided that the law was preempted by stated federal rules on interstate commerce.

The law that took effect on Jan. 1st has made it difficult for companies to classify their workers as independent contractors as opposed to employees that get benefits such as minimum wage and workers compensation.

Preliminary injunction granted to truckers

Judge Benitez granted a preliminary injunction to the California Trucking Association which indefinitely extends his temporary restraining order issued earlier.

Benitez wrote that there was little question about State of California encroaching upon Congress’ territory by removing motor carriers’ choice for using independent contractor drivers. This choice is inherent to interstate trucking.

Independent contractors in other industry verticals oppose the law

While the broad focus of the law targeted ride-share companies like Lyft and Uber, along with food delivery companies, such as Postmates and DoorDash, there have been numerous freelance writers and photographers contending to be victims of unintended consequences.

An organization representing interpreters and translators stated that they were lobbying state lawmakers to exempt their members. The organization states that there are many contractors that are truly independent who find themselves caught up in the world of new restrictions.

These restrictions are put in place to help employees who are wrongly classified to reduce the liability on their employers.

Preliminary injunction a significant win

The office of the state attorney general claimed to be reviewing the federal judge’s decision in the trucking lawsuit. They added that their office has always been and will continue to defend the state laws which are put in place to protect workers and to ensure that there are fair business and labor practices but many people question this frame of view based on what is happening to freelancers in The Golden State.

Shawn Yadon, chief executive of the trucking association, called the preliminary injunction a necessary and note-worthy win for truckers. This is especially true for those who have invested thousands of dollars in purchasing trucks that are required to meet the strict environmental standards laid down by the state.

However, Michele Miller, who is an attorney with the famous labor and employment law firm Cozen O’Connor, claimed the ruling to be too narrowly focused to impact any other pending cases. Miller is not involved in these lawsuits.

Miller claimed that besides the lawsuits, the legislature would witness a veritable tug-of-war with different factions wanting to narrow and expand the law.

Contact a dedicated employment litigation attorney in California

Makarem & Associates has a team of skilled and knowledgeable employment litigation lawyers in California who are dedicated to protecting the legal rights of workers. If you have suffered in any form at your workplace or institution, learn about your rights by calling Makarem & Associates at 800-610-9646 or email at [email protected].