I Heard About “Ban the Box” Taking Effect on January 1, 2014. Does This Mean That I Have to Ignore Someone’s Criminal History?

This is an understandable misunderstanding for employers who are now prohibited (in Minnesota) from asking about someone’s conviction history before an offer to interview the person or before an offer of employment has been made (if there is no interview). 

The law, however, does not say that employers must ignore an applicant’s criminal history.  Rather, its purpose is to stop employers from excluding convicts from being considered for the position solely because of their past conviction history.  Employers may still consider an applicant’s criminal conviction history when determining whether they are the most qualified person for the job.  In some cases the person’s conviction record may make them unqualified (e.g., thief applying for a job as bank teller) and in other cases it might make no difference to the person’s qualifications (e.g., computer hacker applying for a job in sales).  For most businesses the determination of a applicant’s qualifications should be made on a case-by-case basis, rather than having a blanket rule of not hiring criminals altogether.       


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