Southern California Record

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Attorney: Freelance journalists are 'losing work each day AB 5 remains in effect'

Federal Court

By Rich Peters | Feb 4, 2020

P1010049

SACRAMENTO – The Pacific Legal Foundation says freelance journalists in the state are losing work because of Assembly Bill 5, which sets limits on the definition of independent contractors.

On Jan. 6, U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez of the Central District of California denied a temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by plaintiffs American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association in their suit over the bill. Gutierrez said that the groups waited too long to challenge the law.

“Freelance journalists in California are losing work each day AB 5 remains in effect, so we are disappointed the court did not issue an emergency TRO,” said Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Caleb Trotter in a statement. “The court wanted to hold a full hearing before deciding on the injunction, which is understandable given the gravity of the issues. We look forward to the hearing on our motion for preliminary injunction on March 9.”


Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Caleb Trotter | Pacific Legal Foundation

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed the suit on behalf of American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association in December against Attorney General Xavier Becerra just hours before the bill was set to take effect. The groups allege that the new laws infringe on their civil rights.

The bill has slapped limitations on freelance writers and photographers that hold them to just 35 submissions per year, while other fields such as marketing and graphic design have no cap whatsoever, according to the lawsuit. The law also prohibits photojournalists from submitting any video. 

“This civil rights lawsuit seeks to vindicate the constitutional rights to free speech, the press and equal protection for the members of plaintiffs American Society of Journalists and Authors and the National Press Photographers Association,” reads the introduction of the lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

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