Legal Alert: Ninth Circuit Invalidates Contractual Choice of Law Provision; Holds that California Law Applies to Independent Contractor Determination


In a recent case, Ruiz v. Affinity Logistics, the Ninth Circuit refused to enforce a choice of law provision that designated Georgia law, rather than California law, to govern an agreement entered into and performed in California.

Affinity Logistics Corporation, a transportation company, entered into written agreements with its drivers upon their hire. The agreements include two important provisions. First, the agreements specify that the drivers perform services for Affinity not as employees, but as independent contractors.

Second, the agreements include a choice of law provision, which states that Georgia law will govern any dispute that could arise under the agreements. A driver brought a class action lawsuit against Affinity in California, alleging failure to pay overtime and other similar violations under California law and the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Liability for the alleged violations hinged on whether the drivers were considered employees of Affinity or independent contractors.

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