November 17, 2014

New 'Ban the Box' law tripping up Minnesota employers

11-17-2014 Minnesota:

“Ban the box” sounded like a simple concept. Companies can no longer ask about a job seeker’s criminal history on initial employment applications.

But some of the state’s marquee employers fumbled the new law, which took effect Jan. 1.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights has investigated complaints involving the job applications of more than 50 companies and in the majority of cases found applications violating the ban-the-box law, according to data obtained by the Star Tribune. So far about 40 companies “responded favorably” to notification letters the department mailed out, with most fixing applications. The department, charged with enforcing the new law, is awaiting responses from about 16 employers.

Many of the problem job applications still asked if the person had ever pleaded guilty to or been convicted of a crime, asked other questions about misdemeanor convictions, or asked about alcohol- or drug-related driving offenses.

In some cases, as with Target and 3M, the problem applications may have been old ones that somehow surfaced, Human Rights Commissioner Kevin Lindsey said in an interview.

The one company fined so far was Elgin Milk Service Inc., a trucking company in the southern Minnesota town of Elgin. It was fined $500 for not complying in a timely manner. The company paid up. Account manager Lynette Bruske said the company just didn’t know about the law change. The fine surprised her. ..Continued.. by JENNIFER BJORHUS

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