Minnesota Criminal History Ban the Box Law Amended to Include both Public and Private Employers

MinnesotaOn May 13, 2013, State of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton recently signed additional “ban the box” legislation into law.  Senate File 523 amends Minnesota Statutes Section 364.021 and broadens the scope of the existing law that currently prohibits many public employers from inquiring into the criminal past of an applicant until the applicant has been selected for an interview or before a conditional offer of employment is made to also include private employers.

Effective January 1, 2014, a public or private employer may not inquire into or consider or require  disclosure of the criminal record or criminal history of an applicant for employment until the applicant has been selected for an interview by the employer or, if there is not an interview, before a conditional offer of employment is made to the applicant.”

The law only specifies two exceptions – these guidelines do not apply to the Minnesota State Department of Corrections or to employers who have a statutory duty to conduct a criminal history background check or otherwise take into consideration a potential employee's criminal history during the hiring process.

The Minnesota State Commissioner of Human Rights has the authority to investigate allegations of violations and may impose penalties when a violation has occurred. The law states that private employer violations are to be adjudicated in accordance with the procedures set forth in chapter 14, the Administrative Procedure Act. Private employers are subject to monetary penalties ranging from $100 to $500 per violation commensurate to the number of employees and when the violation occurs (before or after January 1, 2015).

It is important to note that while “ban-the-box” legislation prohibits inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on a job application, it does not prohibit employers from processing a criminal background check on an applicant. Comprehensive, pre-employment criminal background checks are increasingly-important as ban-the-box legislation becomes more prevalent nationwide. Employers are becoming more limited by state, city, and county laws as to what they can ask prospective employees on job applications, and thus are more reliant on accredited background screening agencies to provide them with thorough and accurate background information.

Employment Background Investigations Inc., (EBI) is committed to providing employers with valuable education and resources on changing legislation and cutting-edge and compliant solutions to meet federal, state, local, and international mandatory requirements.  EBI is not providing legal advice or counsel and nothing provided in this publication should be deemed as legal guidance or advice.  Readers should consult with their own legal counsel to determine their responsibilities or if they have questions on any information provided by EBI.

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