'Ban the Box' is now state law.

Gov. Mark Dayton this week signed the bill, which is aimed at giving ex-felons a better chance at getting a job in the private sector. It prohibits most private employers from asking job applicants about criminal backgrounds until later in the process -- at the point of an interview or a provisional job offer.

It is called 'Ban the Box' because it refers to a criminal history checkoff box on most job applications. It does not prohibit employers from fully checking out criminal histories of all applicants.

"This will create opportunities for Minnesotans to be judged on skills and qualifications and not just the past," said Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, DFL-Minneapolis, the Senate sponsor. He said it will help employers by providing a larger pool of potential employees from which to choose.

It takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. The provision currently exists in public employment; the new law extends it to private employers.

The new law exempts jobs from which people with felonies are excluded, or services that work with vulnerable clients, such as nursing homes. It also protects employers from lawsuits based on the law, referring complaints to the state Human Rights Department.


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