Earlier this month, Starbucks scored an important procedural victory from the California Court of Appeals, which ruled that a class of employees lacked standing to sue over questions the coffee chain asked on its employment applications about prior marijuana convictions. Click here to read the opinion in Starbucks v. Superior Court.
Despite the apparent victory, this case teaches an important lesson for California employers: make sure your employment applications do not inquire about minor marijuana possession convictions that are more than two years old. Such questions violate California Labor Code Sections 432.7 and 432.8. In the Starbucks case, even though the court held that the applications violated the statute, there was no evidence that any of the class members had been harmed; the outcome would have been different had the class consisted of employees who were denied employment based on their answers to the question, or employees who disclosed that information in response to the unlawful question.