After a judge rejected injunctive relief to Uber and Postmates in their challenge to AB5, the California gig worker law, a new round of plaintiffs have filed an exhaustive Constitutional challenge to the law in federal court.
In Crossley et al v. State of California et al (Case no. 3:20-cv-00284), filed on February 14, plaintiffs are a group of ‘data processors’ challenging California AB 5 based on violations of federal and state equal protection clauses.
Echoing the Uber/Postmates complaint, the Crossley complaint argues:
No sophisticated economic analysis is required to see the pretextual nature of California’s proffered explanations for AB 5’s differential treatment. There is no rational distinction between Data Processors and many of the companies granted exemptions under AB 5, nor between other groups (e.g., optometrists) versus non-exempted (e.g., ophthalmologists) groups. The California Legislature’s focus on some businesses, but not others, and its willingness to grant a laundry list of pell-mell company exemptions in order to spare those types of companies the costs and burdens of complying with AB 5, demonstrates irrational animus against non-exempted companies in violation of the latter’s equal protection rights. This type of singling out, in connection with a rationale so weak that it undercuts the principle of non-contradiction, fails to meet even the relatively easy standard of rational basis review.(Complaint p.21)
AB 5 has already seen a fair share of litigation as companies scramble for answers within their business models and underneath the courts’ interpretation of the new law. So far, companies are losing on the ABC test as courts apply contract labor fact patterns to further scrutiny. Instacart got slapped this week by a San Diego County judge interpreting AB 5.
With the merit-based analysis going so poorly, companies that rely on contract labor can only hope to win on constitutional bases and strike down the law in its current state.