In Minnesota, employment background checks are considered serious business. Why? Because there are so many ways to unfairly use the power to background check against employees. Often to reinforce hiring biases or to deny jobs based on non-work-related details. In fact, the laws about when and how a Minnesota employer can run an employment background check and what decisions they can make based on these checks are very specific.
Today, we’re here to tell employees and job candidates exactly what your employer must and must not do when running employment background checks during the hiring process.
They Must Make the Job Offer First
First and foremost, employers can’t actually run a criminal background check during the application process. This is because of the “Ban the Box” law, a legal trend in states that prevents employers from even asking about your criminal background with a check-box (“have you ever been convicted?”). Instead, they must make their entire hiring assessment and offer you the job, which you must accept, before they can run any criminal background checks that -might- disqualify you from being hired.
They Must Have Your Signed Consent
Second, you have to give signed consent before a credit, employment, or criminal background check can be run. They can ask for these forms with the job application, but cannot run the checks until the job offer is made.
They Must Tell You What Kind of Background Data Will Be Checked
There are three types of background check your employer may perform. Employment, which as the loosest restrictions, Credit which answers to financial security, and criminal which has the most written-law restrictions. If your employer is running one, two, or all three types of background check, they must tell you and get your written permission for each one.
They Must Make a Free Copy Available to You On Request
If an employer is running a background check, you have a right to see exactly what is pulled up. Your employer is obligated to give you a free copy of the background test results if you ask for it. Look for the little check-box requesting a copy when you sign the background check permission forms. This is where you request your free copy of the background check results.
They May Not Make You Pay for It
Minnesota employers are also not allowed to make you pay for the background check services they use. Application fees are an iffy subject but under no circumstances can an employer make you pay for the background check before they hire you. This is unethical and illegal. If an employer asks you this, it’s best to report them because this is a common scam to get money out of desperate unskilled workers and then not hire them. Remember, every applicant can’t possibly be paying a legitimate fee if background checks can only be run -after- a position offer is made.
All Used Information Must be Recent, Accurate, and Lawful
Not all background checks are totally legitimate. They may include information that should have rolled off the board (statute of limitations) or the check may include information that should have been expunged and excluded by court order. Your employer is obligated to make sure any information in a background check used for consideration has been updated less than 30 days ago and is currently legally accurate.
They Must Give You a Chance to Dispute or Explain Details
And no matter what appears in your background check, employers must give applicants a chance to talk it out with them. There might be understandable circumstances for an otherwise disqualifying entry. Or you may need to clarify that an arrest or trial that was expunged should not legally be visible and why. This is your chance to put your background check in perspective and correct inaccuracies. If you are not given this chance before the offer is rescinded, your employer is breaking the law.
They May Not Use Blanket Criminal Background Disqualification
Finally, employers are restricted in the ways they can choose to act on background information. Because some populations are disproportionately charged with criminal activity, a blanket-policy of “no criminal backgrounds ever” can be used to enforce racial and ethnic hiring biases. Therefore, employers are required to define (and justify) exactly what kind of criminal backgrounds are disqualifications. Fraud in a bank, or a history of violence for caretakers, etc. And if you have a criminal past that does not conflict with the job’s values (ie: graffiti charge for a delivery driver), then this should not be held against you in hiring considerations.
Is your employer or an employer you have interviewed for breaking the employment background check laws? Have you experienced an unlawfully recinded job offer because an employer did not follow the rules? If so, contact us today. An experienced employment attorney can help you get the justice you need and stop the unfair hiring practices of any employer who has treated you (and likely countless others) poorly in the hiring process.