Catholic University Law Review


A.B.5 made a significant but limited expansion of the coverage of California labor law but at a notable cost. Even as A.B.5 broadened the reach of the Golden State’s labor protections, A.B.5 also made the definition of “employee” more complex and less uniform. Those seeking federal or state legislation like A.B.5 confront the same trade-off under which greater coverage is achieved at the expense of more complexity and less uniformity in the definition of who is an employee. The same political forces and policy considerations which molded A.B.5 in California will have similar effects in other states and in the halls of Congress.

A.B.5 is thus an important data point which indicates that those who seek to reform the law of employee status face a trade-off: Efforts to expand the coverage of employment-based protection laws will make the law more complex and less uniform – as did A.B.5. Given the relevant political forces and policy considerations, legislators can broaden the reach of employment-based regulatory laws to cover more workers in the modern economy or they can simplify and unify the legal definition of employee status. They cannot do both.