February 24, 2014 4:00 PM, EST

Idaho High Court Eases Owner-Operator Rules

Idaho’s Supreme Court unanimously reversed a previous ruling that had said that a truck owner-operator cannot be considered an independent contractor without having his own authority from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Feb. 11 opinion in Western Home Transport v. Idaho Department of Labor was written by Justice Warren Jones.

All members of the current court were on it in 2008 when they issued Giltner Inc. v. Idaho Department of Commerce and Labor, the case that emphasized operating authority. Under that case, a driver using the motor carrier’s DOT authority was found to be an employee rather than an independent contractor.

Employee status means that employers must deduct payroll taxes and pay unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation, among other obligations.

“This ruling is a great win for the entire trucking industry,” Idaho Trucking Association President Julie Pipal said. “We recognized that Giltner threatened the owner-operator business model in Idaho and that there was an opportunity for our association to make a difference by informing the court about the trucking industry.”