A class-action lawsuit against Starbucks (Nasdaq: SBUX) that began in San Diego is moving forward, according to court documents. On March 30, San Diego Superior Court granted a motion for class certification in the case of Jou Chou v. Starbucks.
In the case, Chou, a former coffee-server, or "barista," sued Starbucks over the company's policy of pooling tips and sharing them with managers and supervisors. Chou contends that this violates California labor laws. His attorney, Terry Chapko, is arguing that Labor Code 351 states no employer or agent can collect tips customers left for servers.
The lawsuit was originally filed Oct. 8, 2004. The March 30 decision allows it to go forward as a class action. Chapko has yet to begin the discovery phase of the trial and said until he does he won't know exactly how many people will be affected or how much money they will get, but it will likely depend on how long they worked as a barista for Starbucks.
According to Starbucks' Web site, the company has 1,956 coffee shops in California and 40 in the city of San Diego. Each one has multiple baristas serving coffee. Everyone who has been employed as a Starbucks barista in California in about the last five years could stand to collect.
The case was originally handled by Chapko's former firm Chapko & English, but is now being handled by his current firm, the Law Offices of Terry J. Chapko.
Starbucks did not immediately return a request for comment on the case.