Olson v. State of California

California Can’t Arbitrarily Force People to Be Employees

Amicus Briefs > Economic Liberty > Olson v. State of California

California recently enacted a new law, AB 5, that forces most Californians who were previously working as independent contractors to be reclassified as employees. Under the guise of protecting workers from exploitation and misclassification, the change in the law takes away the independence and workload control enjoyed by contractors, and makes it less likely those workers will be hired as employees in the first place because of the increased costs to businesses in hiring employees. Of course, many independent contractors don’t want to be employees even if the opportunity was available.

If the fundamental change in California’s labor market wasn’t bad enough, the legislature also exempted many groups of workers and professionals, seemingly at random.

In PLF’s friend-of-the-court brief, we argue that the Ninth Circuit should reverse a district court decision denying a preliminary injunction sought by a group of Uber and Postmates drivers, as well as the companies themselves. The group challenged AB 5 on the grounds that it violates the Equal Protection Clause and their due process right to earn a living, by forcing them to become employees and excluding them from the law’s many exemptions.

Importantly, the group presented a significant amount of evidence showing that drivers prefer the independence of being a contractor rather than an employee, and that there is no rational explanation for the law’s exemptions. But the district court essentially ignored this evidence and denied the preliminary injunction under “rational basis review.” PLF’s brief discusses how the Supreme Court applies rational basis review to require a consideration of the evidence presented by parties challenging legislation.

Related Documents

PLF regularly participates as amicus curiae, or friend of the court, in cases brought by others. This supplements our direct representation cases by providing judges with unique, strategic, and helpful arguments to consider when crafting their opinions in related cases

Olson v. State of California - PLF AC Brief

May 14, 2020 Download

What’s at stake?

  • California is ignoring the choice of individuals to work as independent contractors rather than employees.
  • California has upended the state’s labor market by imposing a one-size-fits-all model on the economy.
  • Courts cannot ignore evidence presented by plaintiffs that shows there is no rational basis for a law.

Brief Authors

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