RIGHTS BLOG: Updates from the Department of Human Rights

Gov. Dayton Proclaims Human Rights Week in Minnesota

Posted on 11/27/13

In recognition of the historic March on Washington during which Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his celebrated “I Have A Dream” speech a little over 50 years ago, Gov. Mark Dayton has proclaimed the week of December 2nd - 6th as “Human Rights Week” in Minnesota.

During the week, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights is holding a series of events focused on equity and employment for minorities, women, people with disabilities who -- in the words of Dr. King -- are still holding a promissory note, and still seeking “the riches of freedom and the security of justice.”

A cornerstone of the week is the Department’s Human Rights Symposium, an all-day conference on Dec. 5 focusing on employment, public policy, and criminal justice. On Friday Dec. 6, the Department recalls the goals of the 1963 march with an event shining a light on the struggle to ensure employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

Earlier in the week, on Tues. Dec. 3, the Department hosts a Diversity and Inclusion Summit for state government senior executives, featuring special guest is Kimberly F. Price, Vice President, 3Mgives and 3M Foundation.

On Wednesday, the Department will announce the winners in its “I Have a Dream” video contest, which invited youth around the state to create short videos offering their perspectives on Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream. That morning, MDHR Commissioner Kevin Lindsey will visit one of the winning schools to congratulate the students on their contributions.

The Governor’s proclamation recalls the historic events of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and notes that it served as a catalyst for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The proclamation notes that the Department of Human Rights is committed to eradicating employment disparities in Minnesota for ethnic groups, women, and people with disabilities, and ensuring no one is subjected to unlawful discrimination.

“The State of Minnesota continues to be committed to ensuring that each of its citizens has the opportunity to achieve their dreams,” the proclamation declares.

Minnesota Employers: Are You Ready for the New ‘Ban the Box’ Law?

Posted on 11/5/13

The Department of Human Rights is encouraging Minnesota businesses to prepare for the new “Ban the Box” law that becomes effective in less than 60 days. Now is a good time for employers to update application forms and adjust hiring practices to ensure they are prepared for Jan. 1, 2014 when the “Ban the Box” becomes effective. Employers should also know that there are potential penalties for employers found in violation of the law.

“Minnesota businesses may not be aware of the new law that takes effect the first of the year,” said Commissioner Kevin Lindsey. “We are providing businesses with education and information regarding the law to encourage a change in their hiring practices before the law becomes effective.”

Key provisions of the “Ban the Box” law are as follows:

  • Employers are prohibited from asking about an applicant’s criminal background before a job applicant has been selected for an interview or a conditional job offer is made.
  • Employers may still ask about criminal background within the limits of current state and federal law. The new law merely changes the timing of when that request can be made.
  • Employers may still exclude applicants convicted of a crime as required by state or federal law. The new law merely changes the timing of when that request can be made, including for occupations with legal requirements about criminal records.
  • Existing laws will continue to protect vulnerable adults and children from people with violent or sexual criminal histories.
  • Employers may still exclude applicants if a crime is relevant to the position's job duties, but must wait until the interview stage or the preliminary offer of the application process to make the inquiry.

Find Employer Guidance and FAQ on the new “Ban the Box” law on our web site in the Employers section.