Criminal Background Checks Overview
In 2012, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) issued guidance to all employers on when the use of information from a criminal background check may expose the employer to liability.
The Minnesota 'Ban the Box' law is designed to provide job candidates with an arrest or conviction with more opportunities to be evaluated on their skills and experience when applying for positions with private employers. According to the National Employment Law Project, 1 in 4 Americans have either an arrest or conviction on their record, in most cases for nonviolent offenses. This law offers the vast majority of these individuals a second chance at an opportunity for employment.
The new Ban the Box law will not only provide an opportunity for those with a criminal background to better their lives, it encourages best practices that will help employers be better prepared for Minnesota's changing demographics. The number of working age adults shrinks daily as more than 10,000 Americans turn 65 years of age each day well into the next decade. The increased use of criminal background checks complicates matters for employers as they face a dramatic worker shortage in the foreseeable future.
The expanded use of criminal background checks also contributes to employment disparities. Minnesota has some of the deepest economic disparities in the nation based on race, and while the reasons are multifaceted, involvement in the criminal justice system is a significant factor driving these disparities. In Minnesota, the disparity between Whites and African Americans with criminal records is four times higher than the national average. The Ban the Box law can mitigate disparate impact based on race and national origin in the job applicant pool, and is one tool to help reduce these inequalities.
Watch the MDHR Human Rights Symposium workshop on Criminal Background Checks, which examined the consequences of employers' increased use of these checks, the current state of the law at the time and where the law might be heading.