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Judge temporarily exempts truck drivers from new California labor law

A trucking association says drivers are covered under a previous federal statute

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Photo (c) Marcus Millo - Getty Images
California’s new labor law, AB 5, went into effect on Wednesday with the start of the new year. But a federal judge says that it doesn't apply to every worker in the state. 

U.S. federal judge Roger T. Benitez placed a temporary block on the new law when it comes to independent truck drivers after hearing arguments from the California Trucking Association. The industry trade group issued a legal challenge to the law in November on the grounds that it would limit independent drivers’ use of their own vehicles and their ability to set their own schedules.

“Having considered the parties’ arguments set forth in Plaintiffs’ supporting papers, as well as Defendants’ and Intervenor-Defendant’s opposition papers, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s requested temporary restraining order is warranted,” Benitez said in his order. 

Reuters reports that a hearing to determine if a permanent injunction will be placed on AB 5 will take place on January 13. 

Legal challenges

California’s new labor law has faced a slate of legal challenges since its original proposal was advanced back in September. Last month, Uber and Postmates filed a lawsuit of their own on the grounds that AB 5 would hurt both businesses and workers. 

“AB 5 is an irrational and unconstitutional statute designed to target and stifle workers and companies in the on-demand economy,” the suit stated. “Plaintiffs bring this lawsuit to protect their constitutional rights and defend their fundamental liberty to pursue their chosen work as independent service providers and technology companies in the on-demand economy.”

Of course, regulators have completely different feelings when it comes to the law. California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez called Uber’s efforts nothing more than an attempt to deny workers’ benefits that they deserve. 

“The one clear thing we know about Uber is they will do anything to try to exempt themselves from state regulations that make us all safer and their driver employees self-sufficient,” she said in a statement.

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