Alert: "Ban the Box" Law Now in Effect

Spring 2014 Firm Newsletter

During the 2013 legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature enacted Minn. Stat. § 364.021, prohibiting private employers from inquiring about the arrest or conviction record of job candidates when they apply for jobs. The new law outlaws job application forms that have a box to check to indicate that the applicant has never been arrested or convicted. It also prohibits verbal inquiries into an applicant’s criminal background at the outset of the hiring process. However, once a job applicant has been selected for an interview or, if there is no interview, once a conditional offer of employment has been made, these inquiries may be made and a criminal background check may be done. In addition, if, because of the nature of the job, an employer is required by law to exclude applicants who have been convicted of a crime, they can continue to do so. During 2014, the first year of enforcement, the commissioner will provide a written warning to employers in violation before any fines are levied. Thereafter, the penalty is up to $500 for each violation (e.g., each non-compliant application form). Employers who use “off the shelf” application forms should examine the forms to ensure that they do not run afoul of the new law.