Employment misclassification

August 24, 2023

Employment Discrimination

“Ban the Box” and Employment Background Checks: What Job Applicants in Minnesota Should Know

Starting January 1, 2014, Minnesota’s “Ban the Box” law came into effect, bringing significant changes for job applicants with criminal backgrounds. This law, officially known as Minn. Stat. § 364.021, has implications for how employers conduct employment background checks and ask about your criminal history during the hiring process.

Understanding the Basics of “Ban the Box”

“Ban the Box” is about making hiring fairer. It’s about removing the checkbox on job applications that asks about your criminal history. This change is designed to give you a fair shot at getting an interview, regardless of your past.

What You Need to Know about “Ban the Box”

Under this law, employers can’t ask you about your criminal history on the initial job application. They can only ask about it after they’ve chosen you for an interview. If there’s no interview, they can ask after they’ve given you a conditional offer of employment.

However, employers are allowed to let you know if certain criminal history backgrounds might not be suitable for specific positions based on the law or company policies.

Does “Ban the Box” Apply to All Employers?

Yes, it does. This law isn’t just for public employers. It applies to private employers as well. So, whether you’re applying to a government agency or a private company, the rules are the same. But there are some exceptions, including for the 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.

Navigating Your Rights for Employment Background Checks

This law does have some exceptions. If an employer is required by law to conduct criminal history background checks or consider criminal history during hiring, they can still do so. But they have to follow the rules – they can only ask about it after the interview or conditional offer.

The Consequences of Not Following the Law

Employers who don’t follow the “Ban the Box” law could face fines. The fines can range from $500.00 to $2,000.00, depending on the size of the employer.

Your Role in Ensuring Fair Practices

While employers need to adapt their hiring practices, you should also stay informed about your rights. Be aware of these changes and how they affect you as a job applicant. This way, you can confidently navigate the hiring process.

Resources for You

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) has put together a toolkit to help you understand and navigate this new law. You can find an informative video, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page, and a historical overview of how criminal background checks have been used in Minnesota’s employment.