California Sues Ralphs Grocery for Allegedly Rescinding Job Offers from Ex-Convicts

The state of California has filed a lawsuit against Ralphs Grocery, alleging that the company unlawfully rescinded job offers from individuals with prior criminal convictions. The lawsuit asserts that Ralphs Grocery violated state laws that protect ex-convicts from employment discrimination.

According to the complaint, Ralphs Grocery extended job offers to several individuals with past criminal convictions, only to later revoke those offers without providing a valid explanation. The lawsuit contends that this action constitutes a violation of California law, which prohibits employers from discriminating against job applicants based on their criminal history, unless certain circumstances apply.

California’s Civil Rights Department has filed a lawsuit against Ralphs Grocery, accusing the company of violating state law by rescinding job offers from individuals with a criminal history. The lawsuit alleges that Ralphs canceled hundreds of offers due to prior convictions, even for minor offenses like excessive noise or cannabis possession. This article will delve into the details of the lawsuit, the laws surrounding the hiring of ex-convicts, and the implications for employers.

The Allegations

According to California’s Civil Rights Department, Ralphs violated a 2018 law that prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history before extending a job offer. The department claims that Ralphs not only disqualified candidates based on unrelated convictions, but also failed to provide adequate notice as required by the law. The lawsuit further alleges that applicants were unaware that their job offers were at risk, causing unnecessary distress and uncertainty.

California’s Fair Chance Law

California’s Fair Chance law aims to give individuals with a criminal history a fair opportunity for employment. The law stipulates that employers must first extend a conditional job offer before conducting a criminal background check. The offer can only be revoked if the conviction directly relates to the job responsibilities. This legislation seeks to prevent discrimination against ex-convicts and promote their successful reintegration into society.

Ralphs’ Response

As of now, neither Ralphs nor its parent company Kroger has responded to the allegations made in the lawsuit. It remains to be seen how they will address the accusations and whether they will contest the lawsuit or seek a settlement. The outcome of this case will likely have implications for other employers in California and potentially set a precedent for similar lawsuits in the future.

The Impact on Ex-Convicts

The revocation of job offers based on past convictions can have severe consequences for individuals seeking to rebuild their lives after serving their sentences. Stable employment is crucial for ex-convicts to reintegrate into society, gain economic stability, and reduce the likelihood of reoffending. By rescinding job offers without considering the relevance of the convictions to the job responsibilities, employers may perpetuate a cycle of unemployment and recidivism.

Mediation Attempts and Investigation

The lawsuit follows several mediation sessions between California and Ralphs. The state initiated these sessions after receiving a complaint alleging discriminatory practices in 2020. The investigation began in 2021, and Ralphs was made aware of the ongoing inquiry. Despite the mediation attempts, it appears that the parties were unable to reach a resolution, leading to the filing of the lawsuit.

Seeking Compensation and Injunction

The state of California has not specified the exact financial damages it seeks from Ralphs. However, the lawsuit includes a request for compensatory damages for affected applicants, punitive damages, and an injunction. The compensatory damages would aim to compensate those whose job offers were rescinded unlawfully, while punitive damages would serve as a deterrent and punishment for Ralphs’ alleged violations.

Ramifications for Employers

If the allegations against Ralphs are proven true, the outcome of this lawsuit could serve as a warning to other employers in California. It would highlight the importance of adhering to the Fair Chance law and conducting background checks only after extending conditional job offers. Employers across industries may need to reassess their hiring practices and ensure compliance with state laws to avoid potential legal consequences.


The lawsuit filed by California’s Civil Rights Department against Ralphs Grocery brings attention to the issue of job offer revocations based on an individual’s criminal history. By allegedly violating state law, Ralphs has potentially harmed ex-convicts’ chances of successful reintegration into society. The outcome of this case will shed light on the importance of fair hiring practices and may influence the hiring landscape for ex-convicts in California. Employers should take note of the potential legal ramifications and ensure compliance with relevant laws to provide equal employment opportunities to all applicants, regardless of their criminal history.