If you are interested in obtaining a background check in Minnesota or just want to know how it works, then this guide is for you. We take an in-depth look at all the most common questions asked about background checks in Minnesota and provide you with all the answers you need.
Background Check Laws in Minnesota
Minnesota is one of several states that have ban-the-box restrictions on all employment background checks. This means that an employer cannot use a criminal record to disqualify an applicant from applying for any position posted publicly.
In 2014, this law went into effect for private employers as well. Once the candidate has been through the interview process and deemed eligible based on their qualifications, then and only then can an employer run a criminal background check in Minnesota.
There are exceptions for employers who are hiring individuals to work directly with minor children and some other fields that are required to conduct an employment background check.
Minnesota Local Laws
In addition to other applicable laws and the ban-the-box rules, other local laws need to be considered when doing background screening in Minnesota. Some jurisdictions have stricter regulations outside the ban-the-box guidelines.
Some jurisdictions, such as Minneapolis, have additional notification procedures that must be adhered to when an applicant is denied employment or doesn’t receive a professional license due to the findings on a criminal record.
These additional procedures include providing the applicant the details of the reapplication procedures and notifying them of the grievance.
Federal Laws on All Employment Background Checks
In Minnesota, employers must follow all the state, federal, and local laws established to conduct background checks on prospective candidates. There are specific guidelines that must be respected, and failure to do so could result in penalties or even a lawsuit being brought against the employer by a potential employee.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) restricts consumers’ (aka, applicants’) details on all employment applications. However, any position with a salary of $75k or more is exempt from these restrictions.
Anything that happened to you negatively and is over seven years old could not be reported or used against you in the hiring process unless it was a criminal conviction. In that case, those details can be revealed to potential employers.
Examples of negative information could consist of:
- Financial Records in Collections
- Civil Suits
- Judgment Liens
- Criminal Arrest Records (Not including convictions)
An employer is required to notify the potential employee prior to conducting a background check according to the rules established by the FCRA. Furthermore, the employer must obtain consent from the applicant before doing any background checks manually or using any third-party sites to initiate the screenings.
If you are questioned about your criminal history at the beginning stage of the application process, you do not have to answer any questions related to your criminal background. You should then report the incident to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
Note: There is no time restriction on any criminal conviction records, and potential employers will have access to these details when conducting a thorough background check in Minnesota.
What Are Ban-the-Box Laws?
The ban-the-box law in Minnesota is designed to give all applicants an equal opportunity for applying to jobs that meet their qualifications. This law prohibits any employers from asking questions about an applicant’s criminal history when initially applying for a job.
A preliminary interview needs to be conducted in some states, and or a contingency offer needs to be made prior to accessing the applicant’s criminal history records. You might even find that some employers will reveal activities that might disqualify you from the hiring process.
This allows you to decide whether or not you want to pursue this position for employment and that you’re okay with the fact that your criminal activity will be revealed to the employer after an offer has been made.
Currently, the ban-the-box law applies to both public employers and private entities. Even if a company’s headquarters is located in another state, the ban-the-box application process still applies to any jobs that are located in the State of Minnesota.
Minnesota law requires that anybody applying for school bus drivers, teachers, or apartment managers undergo a criminal background check.
Note: Any employer that violates the ban-the-box law may be subject to paying a fine.
What Shows Up on a Background Check in Minnesota?
Background checks in Minnesota can be extensive or relatively simple. This is mainly at the potential employer’s discrepancy and how much detail they want to know about your background.
Some things are standard and considered to be the most common information requested when doing pre-employment screenings. Such as:
- Past Employment – Most background checks will include your past employment details, including the dates of employment as well as the positions held at each job.
- Criminal History – If there is a criminal history, a background check will reveal the offenses, details, and dates. However, Minnesota law prohibits juvenile records from being accessed, along with sealed or expunged records. In some cases, there might be exceptions, but these are the general rules.
- Education Verification – Employers will be able to access your records for any diplomas, certifications, or other relevant documents that support your application for employment. Verifying a degree is one of the best methods for protecting a company’s assets.
- Credit Check – Under strict compliance with the FCRA, employers can access a potential employee’s credit file with their consent. This allows an employer to see if the candidate is responsible when it comes to commitments that matter the most.
How Far Back do Background Checks Go in Minnesota?
Background checks in Minnesota, as well as all the other states, are governed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). This law allows background checks to be reviewed up to the past seven years.
Even if a business uses a third party to conduct the background check for an employer, that company also is regulated to report only on the past seven years of the applicant’s history.
There is an exception to this rule for any applicant applying for a position that has a starting salary of over $75k per year. The potential employer then has the right to review the applicant’s history back to the age of 18 years old.
Note: All minor’s criminal records are typically sealed and cannot be given to anybody without a court order.
What is the Minnesota Human Rights Act?
The Minnesota Human Rights Act was created to stop discrimination from happening in the workplace. This law ensures that individual personal characteristics don’t play a part in any decision-making when hiring people for employment.
Many classes fall under the protection of this act, such as:
- Family Circumstances
- Local Human Rights Commission Activity
- Marital Status
- Public Assistance Status
- Sexual Orientation
This list was created to protect most classes of people who fall under one or more of the above categories. Employers should not be making any hiring or firing decisions based on any of these classes, as it is unethical and protected under this act.
Companies are encouraged to conduct fair hiring practices, which include running a background check on a potential candidate and not making a decision based on any of the above listed personal characteristics.
If a background check reveals you went to school abroad, or you’re divorced, these should never be used against you when being considered for employment. The same goes for your race, sex, or religious preferences.
Can You Get a Free Background Check in Minnesota?
You can receive a free background check in Minnesota by accessing their online database. Minnesota is one of the few states that provide online access to all public criminal histories. This information will allow you to determine if any person who is a resident of Minnesota has a recent criminal history.
These criminal records are part of the Minnesota Criminal History System and are created by law enforcement agencies during court arraignments, incarcerations, and any arrests. However, the only records you will find on a background check will be the records that were uploaded into this system.
You can also obtain a free copy of your background check if you checked the box on an employment application that states you’re entitled to a free copy of your background check. By doing so, the credit reporting agency must send you a copy of the report within 24 hours of completion.
Other than that, fees associated with different kinds of records can vary in cost. However, there is no charge for inspecting records in person. But you will be charged if government employees need to perform an electronic search and duplicate any records.
If you want to skip the hassles of waiting long periods of time to get your records, then multiple online websites will perform your background checks for a set fee. These fees can vary based on the company conducting the screening and the details requested.
Note: When requesting records from the State of Minnesota, there is no specific response time for any FOIA requests.
Why Do Employer’s Do Background Checks in Minnesota?
There are many reasons an employer would perform a background check on a potential new hire. Once a candidate has undergone the initial interview process and the company they applied to is ready to take the final step in offering employment, they will generally perform a background check.
This ensures that the employer is not taking any unnecessary risks by hiring somebody who is not responsible or reliable. Other potential risks need to be considered when hiring people for management positions or any job that exposes the companies assets.
In addition, performing a background check is the final attempt at verifying everything the potential employee has claimed to be true on their application. This could involve their educational background or previous job experience.
It’s also another way of building a trusting relationship between an employer and employee. Once the background check has passed and the candidate has been found to be trustworthy, the bond between both parties has been established and paves the road for a smooth transition.
How Long Does a Background Check for Employment Take in Minnesota?
The amount of time for a background check to be returned in Minnesota will vary based on how it was conducted. There are various ways that background checks can be performed, and depending on what details the employer is seeking, it can take anywhere from two to five business days.
This does not include background checks that require fingerprinting, which can take longer. You should also consider the size of the company you are applying to when waiting for your background check results.
Some businesses with substantial HR departments might have a faster turnaround time for background checks than a small company that only has one person handling all the paperwork for new hires. However, it should never take longer than ten business days in either case.
How Long Does a Background Check Take for a Gun in Minnesota?
Before a firearm can be sold to a buyer, federal law requires all federally licensed firearm dealers (an exception being private sellers) to start a background check. Since Minnesota is not a ‘point of contact state, the firearms dealer must contact the FBI directly when initiating the background check.
Minnesota has a state law requiring an additional background check in certain circumstances by local law enforcement. These include a person who doesn’t have a permit to carry a handgun or a transferee permit and would like to obtain a semiautomatic military-style assault weapon or handgun from a federally licensed dealer.
In that case, the law requires the dealer to contact the local sheriff or police chief and file a report. The law enforcement agency will then perform a background check on the potential buyer’s behalf. The same goes for any person applying for a permit to carry a handgun or a transferee permit.
There is a seven-day waiting period for this type of transfer. Once the transfer is approved, there is a requirement that five business days must pass before the transfer can take place. However, the local sheriff or police chief can make exceptions based on their discrepancy.
The sheriff or police chief is required to check for any information regarding warrants, records, or criminal activities and or histories related to the applicant through the Minnesota Crime Information System and any additional criminal record repository. This also includes checking the NICS.
Note: Private sellers are not subject to any laws requiring background checks to be performed for a transfer of firearms, nor any waiting periods.