Monday, September 25, 2023
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Pot-Convict Protection Law Exists for a Reason

(CN) - Starbucks should not have to identify job applicants convicted on marijuana charges to defend itself from a class-action lawsuit that accused the coffee giant of illegally asking about such convictions, a California appeals court ruled.

Three plaintiffs sought $26 million in a class-action lawsuit that accused Starbucks of violating California law by asking applicants if they had juvenile marijuana convictions.

The California Court of Appeals dismissed the case, ruling that plaintiffs lacked standing because they were never actually convicted on such charges. "We declined to turn the legislation into a 'veritable financial bonanza for litigants like plaintiffs who had no fear of stigmatizing marijuana convictions,'" Justice Raymond Ikola wrote for a three-judge panel, quoting the court's earlier ruling.

But Orange County Court Judge Gail Andler then ruled that applicants who did have juvenile marijuana convictions could file an amended complaint.

She also said the plaintiffs' attorneys could conduct discovery to find a suitable representative of the class, and ordered Starbucks to search through its files of applicants to find such a candidate.

On March 22, the Santa Ana-based Fourth District California Court of Appeals overturned that order.

"By providing for the disclosure of job applicants with minor marijuana convictions, the discovery order ironically violates the very marijuana reform legislation the class action purports to enforce," Ikola wrote.

"We fail to understand how destroying applicants' statutory privacy rights can serve to protect them," he added.

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