Mr. Sharma focuses his practice on advocacy before state and federal legislative and regulatory bodies and advises on a wide array of regulatory compliance issues. He leads from the firm’s Washington D.C. office on legislative support initiatives and provides a legal liaison function to firm clients seeking transportation and logistics industry national and state association outreach and issue-specific coordination of desired legislative outcomes.
Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Sharma spent fifteen years as in-house counsel at American Trucking Associations, Inc., where he spent his last four years as senior vice president and general counsel, as well as executive vice president and general counsel to the ATA Litigation Center. Mr. Sharma was actively involved in crafting numerous pieces of legislation at the federal level and notably crafted the motor carrier anti-indemnification legislation that has been enacted by nearly 40 states. Mr. Sharma has frequently spoken on independent contractor issues, motor carrier regulations, and legislative developments. Before going to law school, Mr. Sharma worked for Senator Bob Dole (KS), assisting on foreign policy, trade, and defense issues.
On The Road
- Arbitration Issues
Jul 25, 2021, Prasad Sharma, ATA Trucking Legal Forum - Washington, D.C.
- Independent Contractors Within the New Political Environment—State and Federal Challenges
Apr 20, 2021, Prasad Sharma, American Trucking Associations’ 2021 Virtual Law Review Webinar Series
- Advocacy Committee Panel
Aug 5, 2019, Prasad Sharma, National Home Delivery Association’s 2019 Forum - Denver, CO
- Safety Oversight, Telematics and Balancing Safety and Control
May 21, 2019, Prasad Sharma, American Trucking Association (ATA) Webinar Series
As many motor carriers have experienced, working with independent contractors and managing telematic tools like electronic logging devices (ELDs) presents many challenges. This webinar duided motor carriers in the implementation of telematics and other safety-related devices in an independent contractor fleet. Topics covered included:
- What to do when the mandated use of telematic and safety related devices run afoul of the federal leasing regulations
- What control a motor carrier may assert while still avoiding misclassification claims
- How safety incentives may be utilized to encourage adoption
Additionally, efforts to enact legislation that protect Independent Contractor status while encouraging adoption of safety-related devices were reviewed and discussed.
- Arbitration Hits the Skids: Unpacking the New Prime Opinion and What it Means for Arbitration with Owner-Operators
Jan 28, 2019, Prasad Sharma, Scopelitis Webinar Series
- Updates on Owner-Operator and Independent Contractor Issues
Jul 15, 2018, Prasad Sharma, American Trucking Associations General Counsel Forum - Santa Ana Pueblo, NM
- Independent Contractor Status in 2017
Jul 17, 2017, Prasad Sharma, American Trucking Associations' Forum for Motor Carrier General Counsel - Beaver Creek, CO
- Legislative Impact of the New Administration
Apr 20, 2017, Prasad Sharma, Scopelitis Webinar Series
- Law Alert: Supreme Court Stays OSHA’s Vaccine/Testing MandateThe Supreme Court ordered a stay of OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). The Court held that Congress had not given OSHA authority to issue such a sweeping regulation addressing a public health concern that was not an occupation-specific risk.
- Transportation Brief: Vaccination Mandates Take ShapeThe federal contractor mandate, the private employer mandate, and rules for land and ferry border crossings have started to clarify how the Biden Administration’s vaccination initiative might impact the transportation industry – although the final force and effect of these rules remains unclear. Read the latest on these ever-evolving rules.
- Transportation Brief: Massachusetts Considers ABC Test for Joint EmploymentIn the Jinks v. Credico oral argument before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Court may reject using Massachusetts’ ABC test in the joint employer context. During oral argument in early October, several justices were skeptical, suggesting it would be unworkable to apply the ABC test to determine whether any entity farther up the contracting chain is an employer of a worker who is one or multiple steps removed. More on this decision from the Massachusetts high court that would be a welcome development.
- Law Alert: OSHA Vaccine Mandate DevelopmentsThe Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation held a lottery which determined that the multiple challenges to OSHA's ETS on COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing would be consolidated and heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
- Law Alert: Supreme Court Asks for Solicitor General to Weigh In On AB 5 Preemption ChallengeThe Supreme Court invited the Solicitor General to file a brief expressing the federal government’s views on whether the Supreme Court should hear California Trucking Association’s suit claiming federal law preempts California’s AB 5, which imposes a restrictive ABC test to determine worker classification.
- Law Alert: OSHA ETS on Vaccines and Testing Temporarily StayedThe United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued a temporary stay of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on Vaccines and Testing, which applies to employers with more than 100 employees.
- Law Alert: OSHA Issues Emergency Regulations Requiring Vaccination or Weekly TestingPresident Biden announced an action plan which called for OSHA to draft and issue ETS designed to reduce Covid-19 infection numbers. Specifically, the President has called for private employers with at least 100 employees to ensure either that (1) all employees are vaccinated; or (2) all employees are tested at least weekly.
- Transportation Brief: Labor Meets Transportation in Surface Transportation Reauthorization BillsCongress is making progress, albeit in fits and starts, towards passing a multiyear surface transportation reauthorization bill. Both versions of these massive bills not only authorize highway spending, but also contain numerous policy-related provisions aimed at trucking. While the future of the legislation and the final provisions are uncertain, now is a good time to look at what may be coming down the road.
- Law Alert: Ninth Circuit Grants Stay; Injunction Against Enforcement of AB-5 Against Motor Carriers Remains in PlaceThe United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit granted California Trucking Association’s request for a stay of the mandate in order to allow CTA to petition the Supreme Court for review of the Ninth Circuit’s holding in CTA v. Bonta that the restrictive ABC test in AB-5 is not preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994.
- Law Alert: Ninth Circuit Denies Rehearing in CTA CaseThe United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has denied the California Trucking Association’s (CTA) request for an en banc review of the Ninth Circuit’s April 28 decision that found the CTA was unlikely to succeed on its claim that the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (F4A) preempts AB-5, the California legislature’s imposition of a restrictive ABC test.
- Law Alert: Congress Moves A Step Closer to Examining Truck Lease-Purchase AgreementsThe Senate Commerce Committee passed on a bipartisan basis its contribution to a surface transportation reauthorization bill that includes a threat to lease-purchase agreements in the trucking industry.
- Transportation Brief: The PRO Act – Dropping Barriers for UnionsIn a sea of legislation threatening business interests, the PRO Act or Act stands out as particularly harsh, making it easier for unions to represent workers. With the recent Amazon vote to reject union representation typifying a longer-term trend among workers, Democrats in Congress seek to re-write the rules according to what many have characterized as a union’s wish list. Learn more about the PRO Act and upcoming democratic control of the NLRB.
- Law Alert: 9th Circuit Rules AB-5 Not Preempted On April 28, 2021, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that California Trucking Association (CTA) was unlikely to succeed on the merits with respect to its claim that AB-5, the California legislature’s imposition of a restrictive ABC test, is preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (F4A). What is the future of AB-5 and how will it affect the transportation industry?
- Law Alert: DOL Opinion Letters on Gig Economy Workers and Compensability of Sleeper Berth Time WithdrawnThe U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) withdrew an Opinion Letter issued in 2019 deeming gig economy workers engaging through a virtual marketplace platform to be independent contractors under the Fair Labor Standards Act’s economic realities test (FLSA-2019-6).
- Transportation Brief: Regulatory Outlook for the New AdministrationThat elections have consequences is generally accepted, but agreement on what those consequences are is less universal. If the Biden administration’s early focus is undoing the regulatory actions of the Trump administration, what will the consequences be for trucking outside of the DOT?
- Transportation Brief: A Bumpy Road for Arbitration Under the Biden Administration?With a new administration taking control, there may be renewed focus on efforts to curtail the use of mandatory arbitration agreements. What can we expect?
- Law Alert: Ninth Circuit Upholds California Meal and Rest Break PreemptionThe United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit delivered good news for the trucking industry today, upholding the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s determination that California’s meal and rest break rules are preempted under 49 U.S.C. § 31141.
- Law Alert: DOL Publishes Final IC RuleThe Department of Labor published the text of its final rule establishing the test for independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The text remained largely unchanged from the initial language released in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking published last September. The final rule is an economic realities test with a two-tier analysis.
- Law Alert: California Voters Say YES to Prop 22Prop 22 put the issue of the independent contractor status of gig economy drivers before California voters – these voters overwhelmingly voted yes to Proposition 22 on election day according to Associated Press reports. Scopelitis on how this translates to the transportation industry.
- Transportation Brief: No Circuit Split (Yet) on the FAA “Transportation Worker” ExemptionIn the Summer edition of The Transportation Brief, we discussed the First Circuit’s recent holding that Amazon’s “AmFlex” delivery drivers are exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), even if they do not cross state lines, because the goods they transport are moving in interstate commerce. Since then, the Ninth Circuit has agreed with the First Circuit in another case involving AmFlex drivers (over a strong dissent), while the Seventh Circuit reached the opposite conclusion (i.e., that delivery drivers are not exempt) in a case involving GrubHub.
- Law Alert: DOL Releases Text of New IC Rule for FLSAThe U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) released a proposed rule to determine independent contractor status under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The proposal is expected to be published in the Federal Register later this week or early next week. Comments will be due 30 days following formal publication.
- Law Alert: Ninth Circuit Weighs in on the “Transportation Worker” Exemption from the FAAThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued a long-awaited opinion in a case involving the “transportation worker” exemption from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
- Law Alert: Court Says Uber and Lyft Cannot Classify Their Drivers as Independent ContractorsA California state court granted a preliminary injunction sought by the State of California to prohibit and restrain Uber and Lyft from classifying their drivers as independent contractors and from violating any provisions of the California Labor Code, the Unemployment Insurance Code, and the wage orders of the Industrial Welfare Commission.
- Transportation Brief: PPP and Beyond: Where Can I Turn For Additional Help?The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), although credited with helping the economy stay afloat and keeping workers employed, has not been a model of clarity. A constant drip of new rules and guidance, leaves many questions unanswered. Read the latest.
- Transportation Brief: Circuit Courts Grapple with the “Transportation Worker” ExemptionThe Supreme Court’s holding in New Prime has not been the death knell for the transportation industry’s efforts to enforce arbitration agreements under the FAA. Instead, the fight has moved to another element of the exemption, namely, whether the individual belongs to a class of workers engaged in interstate commerce. Read more about the First Circuit's ruling, unsettled questions on this topic, and the potential for transportation arbitration cases to appear on the Supreme Court's docket in the future.
- Law Alert: First Circuit Rules that Delivery Drivers Need Not Cross State Lines to Be Exempt from the Federal Arbitration ActThe U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit held that last-mile drivers who do not cross state lines are nonetheless interstate “transportation workers” exempt from the FAA so long as they transport goods or people within the “flow of interstate commerce.” The First Circuit’s opinion is the first circuit-level holding on this issue. Read the latest.
- Law Alert: FMCSA Extends Emergency Declaration Through August 14, 2020FMCSA announced an extension of its Modified Emergency Declaration through August 14, 2020, allowing motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the COVID-19 emergency relief efforts to continue operating under the exemptions set forth in the declaration through that date.
- Law Alert: Revised PPP Loan Forgiveness Application ReleasedSBA and Treasury released the promised revised Form 3508 Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Application. Form 3508 can be found here, and its instructions here.
- Law Alert: PPP Loan Landscape Changes AgainThe Senate, by unanimous consent, approved the bill passed by the House last week that provides significant changes to the Paycheck Protection Program Loan landscape. The President is expected to sign the bill. The legislation provides borrowers greater flexibility with respect to the PPP loan forgiveness process. Read more.
- Law Alert: PPP Loan Forgiveness Interim Final Rule ReleasedScopelitis insight on the SBA and Treasury's Interim Final Rule (IFR) providing guidance for the calculation of PPP borrower loan forgiveness.
- Law Alert: PPP Loan Forgiveness Application and Instructions ReleasedSBA and Treasury released the Paycheck Protection Program loan forgiveness application and instructions, which can be found here.
- Law Alert: FMCSA Announces Hours-of-Service Final RuleFMCSA announced its long-awaited hours-of-service final rule, making four significant revisions to the agency’s hours-of-service rules in Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations.
- Law Alert: PPP Loan Certification Safe Harbor and Repayment ExtensionThe latest regarding the scope of the Safe Harbor and the PPP loan program.
- Law Alert: FMCSA Extends Emergency Declaration Through June 14, 2020The FMCSA announced an extension of its Emergency Declaration through June 14, 2020, allowing motor carriers and drivers providing direct assistance to the COVID-19 emergency relief efforts to continue operating under the exemptions set forth in the declaration through that date.
- Law Alert: FMCSA Issues Temporary Waiver for Drivers with Expiring CDLs, CLPs, Operator’s Licenses, and Medical CardsFMCSA issued a limited waiver for commercial drivers whose CDLs, CLPs, operator’s licenses, and/or medical cards have expired or are set to expire after March 1, 2020. The waiver, which is effective immediately and valid through June 30, 2020, comes in response to state DMV and medical clinic closures that have made it difficult for commercial drivers to renew expiring licenses and medical cards in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Law Alert: FMCSA Issues Expanded Emergency Declaration for COVID-19 Relief EffortsFMCSA issued an Expanded Emergency Declaration on Wednesday afternoon, adding to the list of transportation services covered under the exemption and clarifying the exemption’s carve-out for “mixed loads.”
- Law Alert: FMCSA Issues Federal Emergency Declaration and Limited Regulatory Reprieve for COVID-19 Relief EffortsThe FMCSA has issued an emergency declaration, temporarily suspending certain federal safety regulations, including hours-of-service rules, for motor carriers and drivers providing vital supplies and services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Transportation Brief: Spotlight on Independent Contractor Legislative CounselAs California AB 5 made clear, state-level changes to independent contractor (IC) status can significantly change the business operations of a motor carrier in any given state and can have a domino effect on operations even beyond the borders of that state. Read more about how Scopelitis' IC legislative counsel practice regularly assists clients, state associations, industry associations, and coalitions with monitoring recent legislative activity that could impact IC status.
- Transportation Brief: California Takes Aim at Mandatory ArbitrationThe Governor of California recently signed into law AB 51. Read more about how the new law impacts transportation businesses and what you should do now that AB 51 is law.
- Transportation Brief: DispatchesTransportation Industry News & Trends
- Scopelitis in the News: "Perspective: Putting Safety Above ‘Misclassification.'" July 8, 2019. Transport Topics.An op-ed written by Washington, D.C.-based Scopelitis Partner Prasad Sharma on a recent effort in a state legislature that threatens to impede progress in trucking safety.
- Scopelitis Legislative News - June 2019Legislative updates from Scopelitis including FY 2020 Transportation Appropriation, infrastructure spending, autonomous vehicles, and portable benefit models and independent contractor status.
- Transportation Brief: Supreme Court Weighs in on Arbitration with Owner-OperatorsAt issue in New Prime, Inc. v. Oliveira, decided on January 15, 2019, was whether Mr. Oliveira—who personally drove a lease-purchase truck—was exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) because he had a “contract of employment.” The answer would determine whether Prime could invoke the FAA to enforce an arbitration agreement Mr. Oliveira had agreed to.
- Scopelitis Legislative News - March 2019Updates from Scopelitis' Legislative Services team.
- Law Alert: U.S. Supreme Court Unanimously Declares Owner-Operators Exempt from the Federal Arbitration ActRead more from Scopelitis on the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in New Prime, Inc. v. Oliveira.
- Scopelitis in the News: "Infrastructure, Trade Loom Large for Trucking in the New Year." January 4, 2019. Transport Topics.Scopelitis Partner Prasad Sharma in Transport Topics on the DRIVE-Safe Act and infrastructure.
- Scopelitis Legislative News - December 2018Trends covered in this issue:
• Midterm Election Shifts
• Infrastructure Funding on the State Level
• Portable Benefits Model for Independent Contractors
• Upcoming DOT Funding
• Will Divided Congress be Productive?
• FMCSA Signals Aggressive Timeline
- Law Alert: Sears Files for BankruptcyRead more on the Sears Holding Corporation and almost 50 related companies, including both Kmart and Innovel Solutions (collectively “Sears”), having filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy cases in the Southern District of New York Bankruptcy court.
- Law Alert: U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in New PrimeRead more on the oral argument in New Prime, Inc v. Oliveira a case primarily about whether trucking independent contractors are exempt from the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA).
- Video Law Alert: New Prime Oral Argument PreviewRead a preview of next week’s oral argument in a trucking case pending before the United States Supreme Court that will significantly impact the use of arbitration to resolve disputes with owner-operators.
- Law Alert: California’s Meal and Rest Break Requirements PreemptedRead more on California Meal and Rest Break Laws Preempted With Respect To Hazmat Drivers.
- Scopelitis in the News: "Supreme Court Turns Aside J.B. Hunt on Truck Driver Suit." June 8, 2018, Wall Street Journal.Scopelitis Partner Prasad Sharma quoted in WSJ on the U.S. Supreme Court turning aside J.B. Hunt Transport Inc.’s appeal of a court ruling allowing a class-action case seeking enforcement of California rules on wages, rest breaks for drivers the class-action suit to move ahead.
- Scopelitis Legislative News - October 2017Trends covered in this issue:
• States Prepare for 2018 Sessions
• The Emerging Economy Continues to Impact Legislatures
• IC Certification Procedures on the Rise?
• Appropriations for the Department of Transportation Advances in the House
• FMCSA Administrator Nomination Announced
• Joint Employer Clarification Bill Advances
• Autonomous Vehicle Bills Advance
- Scopelitis Legislative News - June 2017This newsletter includes a sampling of noteworthy developments or trends affecting transportation in Congress or the state legislatures during the last two months.Trends covered in this issue:• Scopelitis Law Alert: U.S. DOL Announces Withdrawal of Joint Employment, Independent Contractor Informal Guidance
• States Seek Infrastructure Funding
• Lowering Roadblocks to Platooning
• States React to Gig Economy
• FY 2018 Presidential Budget
• DOT Personnel Changes
• Regulatory Reform
• Tax Reform
• FMCSA Withdraws Minimum Insurance Limits Rulemaking
• Entry-Level Driver Training Rule
• FMCSA Split-Sleeper Berth Pilot
• Rescission of USDOL Persuader Rule Submitted to OMB
- Scopelitis Legislative News - March 2017This newsletter is an overview of noteworthy developments or trends affecting transportation in Congress or the state legislatures so far in 2017.
Trends covered included in this newsletter:• National Carrier Hiring Standard
• Regulatory Reform
• Class Action Reform
• 2018 Presidential Budget
• States Seek Infrastructure Funding
• Lowering Roadblocks to Platooning
- Transportation Brief: First Circuit Deals Blow to Hair-TestingOn December 28, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit dealt a setback to the Boston Police Department’s hair-testing program used to assess an individual’s prior use of banned drugs. Jones v. City of Boston, No. 15-2015 (1st Cir. 2016). The decision may impact the potential use of hair testing programs in the trucking industry in lieu of currently prescribed pre-employment urine-testing.
- Scopelitis in the News: "Trucker Rest Break, Other Rules In Trouble After Trump Move." March 9, 2017, Law360Scopelitis Partner Prasad Sharma talks with Law360 about updates to federal rules governing trucking.