Minnesota Adopts “Ban-the-Box” Legislation

By Veena A. Iyer, Nilan Johnson Lewis PA

Last month, Minnesota enacted legislation prohibiting employers—including non-profit organizations—from inquiring into or considering an applicant’s criminal history until (1) the applicant has been selected for an interview, or (2) in the event there is no interview, the applicant has received a conditional offer of employment.   Penalties for violating the statute range from a written warning to fines totaling not more than $2,000 per month.  The statute goes into effect on January 1, 2014, but some of the penalty provisions do not go into effect until January 1, 2015.  

Importantly, the new legislation does not apply to the human services background studies mandated by Minnesota law.  Therefore, to the extent that your organization is required to obtain such background studies for certain employees, such background checks are not subject to the requirements of the new ban-the-box legislation.  

However, if your organization is conducting a background check on an employee for whom a human services background study is not mandated by Minnesota law, your organization must abide by the new ban-the box legislation and cannot perform a background check before an interview or conditional offer.   

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