Many employers inquire about criminal convictions on their employment applications by placing a box for the applicants to check if he or she has ever been convicted of a crime. The so called “Ban the Box” movement seeks to eliminate this box and to push the criminal conviction inquiry further into the hiring process.
Two States have joined this trend by enacting laws that took effect on January 1, 2014.
Minnesota Senate Bill 523 – requires employers to wait until the applicant has been selected for an interview or before the first interview or before a conditional job offer has been extended before inquiring about the applicant’s criminal history.
Private employers could face fines depending on the size of the company starting on January 1, 2015. During the first year that the law is in force the Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner will provide a written warning to any employers found in violation before any fines are levied.
For violations that occur in 2015, the penalties are as follows:
- For employers that employ 10 or fewer persons at a site, the penalty is up to $100 for each violation, not to exceed $100 in a calendar month.
- For employers that employ 11 to 20 persons at a site, the penalty is up to $500 for each violation, not to exceed $500 in a calendar month.
- For employers that employ more than 20 persons at one or more sites, the penalty is up to $500 for each violation, not to exceed $2,000 in a calendar month.
Rhode Island Senate Bill 357 – prohibits employers from inquiring verbally or in writing about an applicant’s criminal history prior to the first interview.
Penalties can include an award of back pay, compensatory damages, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees and costs and is enforced by the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.
Read the RI Bill here: https://legiscan.com/RI/text/S0357/2013
Nothing in this statute prevents you from obtaining background checks on your applicants. You must simply review your pre-employment application and remove any inquiries about criminal convictions.