On September 18, 2019, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill (“AB”) 5, thereby codifying the California Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Lee. This represents the culmination of a seismic shift in California employment law that began a little over a year ago.
To refresh, starting in 1989, the leading test in California for distinguishing employees and independent contractors was the multifactor standard set forth in S.G. Borello & Songs, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations. Under Borello, the key question was whether the employer “[had] the right to control the manner and means of accomplishing the result desired.” In addition to this factor, the Borello test also endorsed multiple “secondary” indicia in analyzing and determining the employment relationship.
In April 2018, the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Dynamex. In Dynamex, the Court announced a new, more objective standard for determining worker classification for the purposes of the California wage orders. Under this new standard, the burden is on the hiring entity to establish that the worker is an independent contractor who was not intended to be included within the coverage of the California wage orders. In order to satisfy this burden, the hiring entity must establish all of the following: (1) that the worker is free from the control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of work, (2) that the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business, and (3) that the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed.
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