Amicus Briefs of Note for Business

May 10, 2018

On occasion ABI files amicus curiae, or “friend of the court” briefs, on legal cases that could have outcomes that have a big impact on business. ABI recently joined the Iowa Defense Counsel Association and the Iowa Insurance Institute to ensure the voice of business is heard in a district court appeal in Poweshiek County dealing with the important issue of the use of certain prohibited approaches to a jury by plaintiff attorneys–otherwise known as the “golden rule prohibition.” The brief seeks to point out the impacts of violations of the use of emotional appeals to juries not grounded in evidence and the importance of preserving the prohibition on the golden rule approach by plaintiff attorneys to help ensure fair jury trials.

In addition, ABI follows cases nationally through our chamber partners. A recent unanimous California Supreme Court Case, Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court of Los Angeles County, could make it substantially more difficult for businesses in California to show that their workers are independent contractors rather than employees. According to the chamber, the court adopted a new test, which it had previously used only when determining whether a worker who was already the employee of one employer was also the employee of a second “joint employer.” Under that test, referred to as the “ABC” test, a worker is presumed to be an employee and the defendant can rebut this presumption only if it proves the existence of three factors:

  1. That the worker is free from the control and direction of the hirer in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and
  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 that involved in the work performed.

A hiring business’s failure to satisfy any of the three conditions means that the worker is considered an employee and is therefore subject to various requirements such as minimum wages, maximum hours, and meal and rest breaks. The U.S. Chamber's litigation center, which filed amicus briefs in the case, has more information available here.