January 31, 2014
Ban the box
One of the more challenging aspects of hiring can be knowing when and how to conduct a criminal background check on a potential employee. In a previous article I noted how asking for such information during the application process is generally a good idea. However, a recent change in the law now prohibits Minnesota employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal history until after the candidate is selected for an interview, or if there is not an interview, after a conditional job offer has been made to the candidate. In essence, this change now bans the “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” box on all Minnesota job applications.
Employers wishing to conduct criminal background checks on prospective employees should also familiarize themselves with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s Enforcement Guidance on the Consideration of Arrest and Conviction Records in Employment Decisions Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This guidance, which is based on established federal law, confirms that the use of criminal records when making employment-related decisions must be job-related and consistent with business necessity.
Despite these challenges, checking into a prospective employee’s criminal background is still a good idea. Doing so can help an employer avoid hiring an employee whose history indicates a potential threat to the company, its employees, customers, vendors or the general public. The trick is knowing what to ask and when to ask it.
Copyright 2014 Swenson Lervick Syverson Trosvig Jacobson Schultz, PA