Does your business have a job application that people must fill out in order to be considered for employment with your business? If you do, when was the last time you reviewed it to make sure it was legally compliant. There are often changes to the law which affect what can be on job applications. Often, application templates from office stores, or downloaded off the internet are not legally compliant. One recent change to what can be asked on Minnesota job applications takes effect on January 1st, 2014.
Under legislation dubbed ‘ban the box’, Minnesota Statute 364.021, employers are now prohibited from requiring applicants to disclose their criminal history. Additionally, employers are prohibited from asking about, or considering an applicant’s criminal history until after the employer has selected the applicant for an interview, or made a conditional job offer. The use of criminal background checks before an interview or job offer is also prohibited.
These amendments to the statute are designed to help those people with a criminal history of any kind from being discriminated against at the outset while job hunting. People with a criminal history are more likely to be screened out of a hiring process and position that they may otherwise be qualified for. These changes aim to cure that issue and help those with a criminal history rehabilitate themselves by becoming productive members of society, or by simply allowing them to overcome a one-time mistake.
Once the law takes effect, employers will first be given a written warning if they are caught in violation of the statute. Eventually, the Minnesota Commissioner of Human Rights will be able to impose fines of up to $500 for additional violations. Thankfully for business owners, the law does not allow individual job applicants to sue an employer for violating the statute.
However, as with most laws, there are some exceptions to this law. Businesses and employers that are required to conduct background checks by law are exempt from the new requirements. Additionally, the law does not prohibit employers from making any job offers conditional on a background check. It also doesn’t prevent business owners from stating that the job will require passing a background check at some phase of the application process.
Take the time to review your job application to be sure it is compliant with the amended statute. It may also be a good time to check for other job application compliance issues too.