On April 20, 2013, the Minnesota Senate passed a bill (S.F. 523) that would amend Minn. Stat. § 364.021 to prohibit criminal history requests on employment applications. Specifically, the bill would ban all employers from asking about or considering the criminal record or criminal history of an applicant for employment until the applicant has been selected for an interview or, if there is no interview, until after a conditional offer of employment has been made to the applicant by the employer, unless the employer has a statutory duty to conduct a criminal history background investigation or consider criminal history records during the hiring process.
This is a significant bill because Minnesota has not previously had statutory limitations on a private employer's use of criminal history information in the hiring process. A similar "ban the box" bill – referred to in this way because of the common practice of including a box on applications for applicants to check if they have been convicted of a crime – is making its way through the Minnesota House of Representatives (H.F. 690).
This new law, if passed by the House and signed by Governor Dayton, would become effective January 1, 2014. Under both the Senate and House bills, any employer who violates Minn. Stat. § 364.021 could face penalties imposed by the Minnesota Commissioner of Human Rights, including up to a $500 penalty for each violation (subject to penalty caps of $500 or $2,000 per month depending on the number of employees in Minnesota employed by the employer).