As discussed previously on this blog, California’s AB5 is already rewriting employment law across a variety of sectors in California. Now the United States House of Representatives looks like it wants to use AB5 as a model for federal legislation.
The House of Representatives recently passed a union backed bill that would use a similar approach to assessing independent contractor status as the ABC Test currently set out in California’s AB5. This would of course take the problems faced by companies, particularly those in the trucking industry, to a national level.
Currently, AB5 has been mired in legislation with the California Trucking Association, among others, challenging the bill. However, many of the challenges to AB5, from a trucking industry perspective, are focused on federal pre-emption challenges. That argument might not be as useful should a federal bill enacting a version of the ABC Test be signed into law.
Given the makeup of the Congress, it seems unlikely such a bill could become law at this time. But with the federal election in November it’s certainly an issue to keep an eye on. However, should the bill see a more plausible path to becoming law after November it’s likely that the bill would face greater scrutiny. It’s far from certain that even a Congress with a different make up would pass a federal version of the ABC Test, particularly given the great extent of its ramifications and the plethora of legal actions that have arisen just in California. It’s easy to imagine massive opposition should the test come close to being used nationwide.
With AB5 in flux and possible changes nationally, particularly for the trucking industry, it is important for employers to have experienced employment and transportation lawyers on their side to navigate this new and ever-changing environment.