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Recruiting and hiring justice-involved job seekers

There has been a dramatic increase in the past few decades in the percentage of employers who run background checks on prospective employees. This is making it harder than ever for people who’ve committed a crime to be hired, regardless of what the crime was or how long ago it was committed. 

Many justice-involved job seekers are more than ready to reenter the workforce with valuable skills, but just need a fair chance at being hired. Below is important information for employers aimed at helping people with a criminal record find employment based on their qualifications.

Ban the box” law

Minnesota law requires most employers to wait to ask about an applicant’s criminal record until after they’ve been selected for an interview or a conditional job offer has been extended. This “ban the box” law means in most cases employers may not ask on an application form whether or not a person has ever been arrested or convicted of a crime. Employers who violate this law may be subject to a fine.

Minnesota’s ban the box law is designed to allow job candidates with a criminal record to be evaluated on their skills and experience before their criminal record can be considered. This law also helps address racial employment disparities, because arrest and incarceration rates are disproportionately high for people of color. Minnesota has some of the largest racial disparities in the country for employment and economic outcomes.

Minnesota law does not require private employers to hire or give preference to a person with a criminal record. Employers may still conduct a criminal background check before hiring a job applicant, provided it occurs after the job applicant has been interviewed or had a conditional job offer extended.

Compliance with Minnesota’s ban the box law does not equate to compliance with federal or state anti-discrimination laws regarding criminal background check policies. An employer may violate anti-discrimination laws if the employer treats criminal history information differently for different applicants or employees based on their race or national origin.

Below are some additional related resources: