Federal Judge Issues TRO Against Enforcement of California AB 5

- A federal judge in California has temporarily halted a law that would potentially change how independent truck drivers are classified under the state’s labor laws.

Judge Roger Benitez from the Southern District Court of California on Dec. 31 issued a temporary restraining order against the implementation of California’s Assembly Bill 5. The legislation, which was set to take effect Jan. 1, potentially would reclassify tens of thousands of independent contractors as employees. Trucking industry officials fear that the law would remove opportunities for drivers to own their own businesses and work as independent owner-operators in California.

The order — which pertains exclusively to the law’s potential effects on the trucking industry — was issued in response to a Dec. 24 request from the California Trucking Association seeking a delay in the law’s implementation. In November, CTA filed a lawsuit challenging AB 5 in which the group argued that many of the drivers it represents want to remain independent contractors, as this permits them the ability to set their own schedules and otherwise profit from owning their own vehicle. The association said enforcing AB 5 would force these drivers to be treated as employees and forfeit those benefits.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are the defendants in the case. The TRO will remain in effect until Jan. 13, when Benitez will hold a hearing on a plaintiff’s motion to seek a preliminary injunction against the law.

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