3 Minnesota Background Check Laws That Are Crucial to Your Hiring Process 12 Jun 2018


Do you know which state laws will affect your hiring process? As a small business owner, understanding all of these laws can feel daunting. But, staying informed about your state’s background check laws is crucial to making hiring decisions that keep you compliant and keep your employees safe. The problem is that the state laws often differ from federal laws, and it’s easy to overlook them at crunch time.

This article will review 3 Minnesota state laws that are important to know before running a background check. We’ll discuss what these laws are and how you can follow them.

1. The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA)

The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act controls how government data is collected, created, stored, used, and released. Under the act, “any person” may request public records in Minnesota and this includes individuals, corporations, and their legal representatives. But, there are certain restrictions for employers and violating these can result in heavy fines of up to $15,000. That’s not considering the legal fees that could come from a lawsuit.

How does this law affect employers ready to run a background check?

  • When performing an online employment background check for criminal records you must get signed consent from the applicant since you’ll be using the data for hiring purposes.
  • Under Minnesota and Federal law, only criminal history that is accurate and complete may be used. This means that any criminal records data you receive must have been updated no later than 30 days before receipt.
  • Your employment background check provider must allow the applicant to dispute the criminal history that is revealed by any report provided to your business for hiring purposes.

Some background checks can get pretty technical so it’s important to make sure your provider is meeting these requirements. This will save you legal trouble if an applicant disputes the accuracy of the information from their background report.

2. The Minnesota Human Rights Act

The Minnesota Human rights act is a state law that prohibits discrimination in Minnesota. This law ensures that people are not discriminated against based on personal characteristics such as a person’s race or sex. Below is a list of the different classes protected under this act:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Creed
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Sex
  • Marital Status
  • Familial Status
  • Disability
  • Public Assistance Status
  • Age
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Local Human Rights Commission Activity

As you can see, the list of protected classes is comprehensive, and every applicant falls into one of these categories. What does this mean for you as an employer?

You definitely shouldn’t fire an employee for being pregnant like some less ethical employers. In fact, just hearing that sentence probably made you a little angry. That’s because people shouldn’t be discriminated against based on these situations.

And you also shouldn’t base employment decisions on race, either. For example, when deciding who to promote within your company the most important factors should be qualifications, education, experience, or whatever else applies to how well they can perform their job.

The same rules apply to when you’re running a background check on a potential applicant. To ensure that you’re legally compliant and protected, it’s important to make fair hiring decisions that are not based on personal characteristics like race or sex.

3. Ban the Box Law

The Ban the Box law passed in Minnesota means that employers may not ask for, consider, or require criminal record information from a job applicant until they are selected for an interview or a job offer has been made.

This means that employers cannot have anything on the application form that asks about criminal history, including a “check here if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime” type box.

In addition, employers can’t run background checks as part of the application process. Because of this, some employers share which criminal offenses will disqualify a candidate early in the hiring process. It’s a good idea to be specific about which factors you’ll be looking at. That way you don’t scare away potential employees who might have applied otherwise.

For example, if you are hiring for a position at a bank you’d be more concerned with records that include theft or fraud. As a best practice employers should let applicants know on the application that convictions for these types of crimes will disqualify them. This helps you stay transparent and avoid having to restart the hiring process later on.

How Can I Stay Compliant?

Every business has to comply with federal hiring laws, but it’s just as important to understand your specific state laws to stay compliant. Keeping up to date with new laws and figuring out how they will affect your hiring decisions is a great way to start.

If you’re currently going through the hiring process and want some help running a background check, we’re here to help. Trusted Employees works hard to keep its processes compliant in Minnesota and nationwide. Contact us today about your background check and get ready to hire with confidence.