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Wednesday, June 12, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Truck Company Challenges State Law

MINNEAPOLIS (CN) - An interstate trucking company says Minnesota law unfairly forces it to treat its independent-contractor drivers as employees. This drives up costs by forcing Advanced Auto Transport to pay benefits, taxes and workers' compensation, and the state law is pre-empted by federal law, the company claims in Federal Court.

Advanced Auto, which does its "driveaway" business throughout the United States and Canada, hires drivers to drive various kinds of vehicles - trucks and buses mostly - from manufacturers to purchasers. Its drivers, who are all independent contractors, obviously do not own the vehicles they drive. Their purpose is merely to get the vehicles from Point A to Point B.

But for purposes of unemployment eligibility, Minnesota law requires a number of conditions for trucking and other courier-type agencies to treat their drivers as independent contractors. One is that the drivers must have an ownership interest in the vehicle they transport.

Advanced Auto says the nature of its business precludes its drivers from owning or leasing the vehicles. Not only is it "impractical and legally onerous" but it causes "unreasonable and excessive burdens" the company says.

"The statute creates anti-competitive, inefficient energy controls on AAT's use of independent contractor drivers, which places AAT at a competitive disadvantage in comparison with motor-carriers doing business in other states," the complaint states.

Advanced Auto claims the state law is pre-empted by the Federal Aviation Administration Act and the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution, and is void under the Commerce Clause because it places an "unreasonable and significant burden on interstate commerce." It wants enforcement of the state law enjoined.

It seeks an injunction against enforcement of the state statute.

Advanced Auto is represented by Bryan Symes with Seaton, Beck & Peters.

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