August 26, 2013
Minnesota employers will soon need to review hiring practices to ensure that they comply with a new state law that limits when job applicants may be asked about criminal records.
The new Minnesota law takes effect as the federal agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws continues to increasingly target employers who misuse criminal records when making hiring and other employment decisions. The increased emphasis on background-check policies has raised concerns among many employers about when and how they may ask job candidates about criminal records.
Background-check policies must be drafted and implemented with care in order to avoid allegations that the policies disproportionately screen out groups of applicants who are protected against discrimination by federal and state laws. Employers who seek information about credit histories also must comply with federal regulations that apply to those reviews.
Here is an overview of the key regulations that apply to employers’ use of background checks:
(The above is only a summary; additional regulations may apply depending on the particular circumstances of any given situation.)
Three recent cases demonstrate the risk of across-the-board policies. In two separate lawsuits, the EEOC is suing a car manufacturer and a discount retailer over background-check policies that were not job-related, were inconsistent with the needs of the businesses and that excluded applicants from racial minorities disproportionately. And in June, the EEOC announced a settlement with a large transportation company that had been accused of denying an African American applicant a job as a driver because of a conviction that the EEOC said was not related to the position.
Other federal and state laws apply to the hiring process, making compliance often complex. The Best & Flanagan Employment & Labor practice group offers a range of audits and training to assist clients and advise on best practices. For more information, contact Sarah Crippen (612.341.9733, firstname.lastname@example.org).