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Minnesota lawmakers are currently considering a much-needed expansion to Minnesota’s expungement laws, offering enhanced protections for people who have expunged their records. Minnesota already some protections for employees and applicants designed to prevent unjust negative employment decisions based on criminal history.

Under current Minnesota law, a public employer or licensing agency is not allowed to refuse to hire a person solely or partially due to his or her convictions, unless the conviction or convictions directly relate to the employment. Additionally, a public employer is not allowed to inquire as to an applicant’s criminal history unless that applicant has been selected for an interview.

The proposed amendment, H.F. No. 1600, would have the law offer employees and applicants even more protections, expanding the effects of an expungement. The expungement of a record would send a clear message that the person has been rehabilitated, both practically and legally. By statute, a copy of an order of expungement would become conclusive evidence of rehabilitation.  The law would go even further, specifically denying a private employer the ability to dismiss or refuse to hire an applicant based solely on a criminal offense. Before refusing to hire and applicant or firing an employee, an employer would be required to notify that person of the impending adverse employment action. The person so notified would have 72 hours to provide the employer with a copy of the expungement order.

Failure to adhere to these requirements, by either failing to provide sufficient notice or taking adverse action based on an expunged record, would constitute a violation of the employee or applicant’s civil rights.

Written by Mathew Higbee, Esq

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