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Supreme Court rejects California Trucking Association’s appeal

California’s trucking sector braces as AB5 set to go into effect

Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

AB5 is now set to go into effect in the California trucking sector, as the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday denied review of the appeal that represented the California Trucking Association’s last-ditch effort to keep the independent contractor law away from its operations.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which had earlier nullified the injunction that kept AB5 out of California trucking, must dissolve the stay that had allowed the injunction to remain in place while CTA made its push toward the Supreme Court. 

With the Supreme Court handing down its denial without comment Thursday morning, dissolving that injunction is expected to happen quickly.

When it does, the independent owner model for trucking in the state of California will be entering a new world with little precedence.

At the heart of AB5 is the ABC test, and further, the B prong of ABC. That B test defines an independent contractor as a worker who is engaged in “work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business.” 

A trucking company hiring an independent owner operator to move freight would presumably fail that test in any litigation.

FreightWaves will continue to cover this story over the course of the day.

More articles on AB5


  1. Jonathan Edwards

    As a Texan

    Our new (5 months) neighbors across the street are here in Texas because Josh knew it was coming …. so he and Jennifer moved to Texas … …

    YES I READ THE F**** ARTICLE that’s why the ❤️ because all the 12 deep water and the 8 shallow water ports in Texas will get busier and busier and F*** CALIFORNIA and this is GREAT news for Texas ….. the auto makers will begin tripling their offloads to Brownsville and Galveston …. I’m loving this

    1. D Kelley

      They will be able to operate as normal. This is aimed at companies that operate “independent contractors” who all aspects are really W2 and not 1099 and the companies used that to their advantage to avoid OT, taxes etc

      1. Jeff Bryan

        If you are an O/O in California get prepared. AB5 will deem you an employee and not an independent Operator. This will complicate your relationship with the company you are leased on to. Ultimately unless you are under your own authority there will be very few Carriers that will use the Owner Operator model. The comment about W2 and 1099 is inaccurate, that would be reference to drivers diving company trucks as a contractor as opposed to employees.

    2. Mike

      From my understanding, you will need to make them employees, pay them with a W2 not a 1099. There are work arounds, but you will need a sharp accountant to set it up, if it is even legal to do in California. I worked for a company in Michigan, Wheeler Trucking that has a pay system for owner operators leased to them that I believe would work. They pay in two checks, one to the owner of the truck and take out taxes as they would a company driver. The other check is to the LLC for the operation of the lease operators truck/company. Look up Wheeler, I believe they have this spelled out on their website.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.