Minnesota Lawmakers Pass Ban the Box Law

Minnesota employers should be aware of a new law going into effect January 1, 2014. The law, christened “Ban the Box” by some, requires that any inquiry into a job applicant’s criminal history cannot be made before the employee’s interview. Thus, all applications should be reviewed before the turn of the year and questions about criminal history be removed.

Important to note is that the employer’s right to conduct a thorough criminal history search are not revoked, but the search can only be made after the first interview. If not interview is arranged, there must first be a conditional offer of employment made before the criminal history inquired into. CRAs fall into this category and cannot be requested before the aforementioned step of the hiring process. Minnesota lawmakers hope this step will help prevent employment discrimination based on the applicant’s past.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. The following are a few of the excluded categories:

  • Department of Corrections
  • Teachers
  • Emergency medical personnel
  • School bus drivers
  • Doctors (after their license has been revoked)

This regulation will be enforced with up to a $500 fine administered by the Human Rights Commission. Consumers cannot sue companies for negligence. The law attempts to make sure there is “no negligent hiring if the job really does expose people to danger” but still prevent discrimination during the hiring process.

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New credit report restrictions in Nevada and Colorado

Effective this year, several new restrictions will be added to how credit reports can be used during the hiring process in Nevada and Colorado. It is important for employers to be aware of these new regulations as Consumer Reporting Agencies will not alert the company if it is in violation of the regulations. Thus, knowledge of the restrictions lies solely the responsibility of the users of credit reports.

New Nevada Credit Reporting Regulations

The new regulations differ slightly between Nevada and Colorado. The following are the conditions under which an employer in Nevada may request a credit report:

1. Obtaining a credit report for the desired position is required by federal or state law.

2. Credit information is related to the position being filled (such as in the cases of managerial positions, if the job entails the handling of money, there will be access to personal financial information, etc.) The regulations do not include a complete list of positions that are “deemed to be reasonably related,” thus leaving room for employers to justify requesting a credit report for other positions or reasons.

Nevada’s new regulations will be effective October 1, 2013.

New Colorado Credit Reporting Regulations

In Colorado, the following situations are ones in which an employer has the right to request a credit report:

1. Banks or financial institutions.

2. Employers required by law to obtain a credit report.

The new law also allows for the requesting of a credit report if it is “substantially related” to the position, including for executive officers, those with fiduciary relationships to the employer, those who are authorized to issue payments positions, or in positions that involve “contracting with defense, intelligence, national security or space agencies of the federal government.” In any of these cases, the employer is required to provide the applicant with notification of the credit report request.

Colorado’s new regulations will be effective July 1, 2013.

In both states, if an applicant feel a credit report has been illegally obtained they have the right to file for retribution. In Nevada they can sue anytime within three years of the incident and may be rewarded up to $9000 per violation. In Colorado applicants can file complaints with the Division of Labor and be awarded civil penalties up to $2500.