An amendment to Minnesota’s laws concerning the expungement of criminal records is designed to help protect employers from claims based on the conduct of their employees.

Expungement is a process authorized by statute that allows an individual to seek to have records related to prior criminal convictions or charges sealed so that they are no longer accessible by the public. Expungement is only available in limited circumstances, such as after an individual has successfully completed a diversion program, has been exonerated, or if the individual was convicted of a low-level crime and has had no other convictions for several years. Expungement is not available for high-level crimes like murder, kidnapping, or criminal sexual conduct. See Minn. Stat. § 609A.02.

The new amendment to Minnesota’s expungement laws took effect on January 1, 2015, and protects employers by prohibiting expunged criminal records from being admitted into evidence in a civil case against an employer based on an employee’s conduct. The new provision states that:

Information relating to a criminal history record of an employee, former employee, or tenant that has been expunged before the occurrence of the act giving rise to the civil action may not be introduced as evidence in a civil action against a private employer or landlord or its employees or agents that is based on the conduct of the employee, former employee, or tenant.

Minn. Stat. § 609A.03, subd. 5(e).

Takeaway: The new amendment to Minnesota’s expungement laws will help protect employers against claims based on employee conduct, such as claims for negligent retention or claims based on respondeat superior liability.