New MN law gives better chance at employment

A new law has taken the criminal background check not just off the front page, but off job applications completely. Minnesota’s Ban the Box law gives people with a blemish on their record a better chance at finding work.

Many employers in Minnesota have a new look to their job application. Since 2009, the Ban the Box law has prohibited public companies in Minnesota from asking about a person’s criminal past. Now that law has extended to private companies as well.

“Prior to 2014, on our applications we asked the question to all applicants, have you been convicted of a crime? And as of Jan. 1, 2014, that clause has been eliminated from our application,” Merchant’s Bank Human Resources Director Albrta Rosburg said.

Ban the Box requires that an employer must conduct an interview before doing a criminal background check. The law tries to give someone with a criminal record a better chance at getting an interview.

“In the past, some employers would conduct a criminal background check prior to an offer and then decide not to offer a job to that employee based on those results,” Rosburg said. She says when hiring, her job is to protect the company and its customers. But when the criminal record is available she says just think about the job that person will be doing.


“So for instance if it’s a situation where you get a criminal background check and it is someone who has numerous driving situations and they’re not in a position where they’re going to be driving,” Rosburg said. “Then really, what would be the reason that you would deny them employment?”

The law requires companies to wait to request criminal records until the initial interview. After that it’s fair game.