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Assembly Bill 5 Negatively Affects Truck Drivers Throughout California

Assembly Bill 5 Negatively Affects Truck Drivers Throughout California

Commonly known as the “gig worker bill”, Assembly Bill 5 or AB5 is a piece of 2019 California legislation intended to help gig workers get fair pay and treatment. The bill places specific requirements on companies that obligates them to prove three things. This “ABC” rules consists of the following:

A) That freelancers are in complete control of their individual workload.

B) That freelancers are “customarily engaged” in business operations.

C) That freelancers provide work that is not included in the business typical scope.

If these three requirements aren’t met, AB5 makes it unlawful to hire an individual on as a freelancer. Instead, for a company to procure independent contractors’ services, they must be hired on as employees. Since 70% of truck drivers are owner-operators, they are considered independent contractors.

Truckers across the state are dismayed at the possibility of the bill passing. This is because the provisions within would likely require truck drivers to become employees of their partners, which negatively impacts their freedoms. At this time, a pending lawsuit has delayed the impact on truck drivers, but the war is far from over.

AB5 will place many truckers in a position where they can’t take work from companies without an offer of employment. However, they have no desire to give up the flexibility that freelancing offers.

In an effort to bring more nationwide attention to AB5, truck drivers have taken to protesting at busy docks in places like Los Angeles and Long Beach to make their voices heard. These protests, thrown by around 100 truck drivers, are a public display that show truck drivers don’t want to fit the bill for higher costs on things like insurance premiums. 

California politicians argue that the negative impact of AB5 on truck drivers will cause a ripple effect throughout the country. Owner-operators who can’t afford to pay high insurance premiums or who wish to maintain their freedoms may opt to leave the state. In an open letter, they pointed out that already backlogged ports will likely descend to even worse conditions, which could result in scarce grocery store shelves and even more limited construction materials.

On the other hand, AB5 could lead to more favorable outcomes for those who are involved in an accident with a truck driver. As of now, if a resident is involved in an auto accident with an owner-operator, they could find it difficult to receive adequate compensation, since truck drivers have limited funds to work with versus large trucking companies.

However, AB5 leads the way for trouble in the courtroom, too. Typically, when an accident happens that involves a trucker, the driver would carry liability for the accident. On the other hand, when an employee of a trucking company causes an accident, the liability falls on the employer. When it comes to owner-operators, AB5 creates a sort of legal gray area – even though truckers would be employed, they would own their vehicles, making it impossible to determine who is legally liable to pay for damages.

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Steven Peck, ESQ.

About the Author

For over 40 years Steven Peck's dedication to law has been unyielding. His approach to client representation and care is deeply respected by his colleagues and clients alike. Steven has extensive trial experience, with millions of dollars in damages recovered for clients in lawsuits throughout California.

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