Criminal Background Checks: Minnesota History

Minnesota's History of Criminal Background Checks in Employment

Minnesota's Criminal Offenders Rehabilitation Act enacted in 1974

In 1974, the Criminal Offenders Rehabilitation Act, M.S. 364, was first enacted. It limited the ability of state and local government employers and licensing agencies to refuse employment or certain kinds of licensure to persons on the basis of their criminal history. Minnesota has long been a national leader in this area, helping individuals reentering the community find jobs helping to build stronger, safer communities.

Minnesota 'Bans the Box' in 2009 in Public Employment

In 2009, Minnesota passed a state law to "Ban the Box," which requires public employers to wait until a job applicant has been selected for an interview before asking about criminal records or conducting a criminal record check. It made it illegal for public employers to disqualify a person from employment or to deny them a license because of their criminal background unless it is directly related to the position, Minn. Stat. ยง 364.021.

Minnesota Expands 'Ban the Box' to Private Employers in 2013

In 2013, Minnesota expanded its "Ban the Box" law to private employers. The new law requires public and private employers to wait until a job applicant has been selected for an interview before asking about criminal records or conducting a criminal record check. It makes it illegal for employers to disqualify a person from employment or to deny them a license because of their criminal background unless it is directly related to the position. The law becomes effective Jan. 1, 2014.

The Commissioner of Human Rights is charged with investigating violations of section 364.021 by a private employer. If the commissioner finds that a violation has occurred then a fine may be imposed on the employer. For the first year of the law's effect (2014) the penalty for a first violation is a written warning to the employer that includes a notice of subsequent penalties. If the violation is not remedied within 30 days of issuance of the warning the commissioner may then impose up to a $500 fine. This written warning provides an opportunity for public education about the new rule before punishing an employer. Subsequent violations before January 1, 2015 are subject to a fine of $500 each, not to exceed $500 in a calendar month.

For violations after January 1, 2015, the penalties change. The written warning for a first violation no longer is required. For employers with ten or fewer persons at the site in the state the penalty for each violation is up to $100, not to exceed $100 in a calendar month. For employers with 11 or 20 persons at the site in the state the penalty for each violation is up to $500, not to exceed $500 in a calendar month. For employers with 20 or more persons at the site in the state the penalty for each violation is up to $500, not to exceed $2,000 in a calendar month.