Effective January 1, 2014, recent amendments to Minnesota law will restrict the timing of pre-employment inquiries by most private employers into a candidate’s criminal past. Employers who are not exempted from the law may not (1) inquire into or consider or require disclosure of criminal record information until the applicant has been selected for an interview or, if there is not an interview, until a conditional job offer of employment has been extended to the applicant, and (2) use any form of employment application that seeks such criminal record information.
The new law does not outright preclude inquiries into or consideration of an applicant’s criminal past. Representative Tim Mahoney, who sponsored the legislation, has stated that the law “does not prohibit private employers from eventually conducting background checks and fully investigating the criminal past of potential employees,” but, “is designed to get applicants past the initial application stage, so that if they qualify for the job, they get a chance to explain themselves.” Further, the statute expressly states that it does not prohibit an employer from notifying applicants that either law or the employer’s policy will disqualify an individual with a particular criminal history background from employment for particular positions. To learn more about the law, please see Littler's ASAP, Minnesota Enacts “Ban the Box Law" Prohibiting Employment Application Criminal History Checkmark Boxes and Restricting Criminal Record Inquiries Until After Interviews or Conditional Job Offers, by Dale Deitchler, Rod Fliegel, Susan Fitzke and Jennifer Mora.