Governor Mark Dayton of Minnesota has signed into law Senate File 523 (SF 523) that will eliminate the checkmark box asking about criminal history on most job applications and limit private sector employers in the state from asking about criminal records of job applicants until an interview or a conditional job offer. The new law extends the “Ban the Box” provision that currently exists in public employment to private employers. For more information about SF 523 – which will take effect on January 1, 2014 – visit

As previously reported on the ESR News blog, SF 523 is designed to help job applicants who are ex-offenders get past the initial application stage and have a chance to explain their criminal records if they qualify for the job. However, the law does not prohibit private employers from conducting background checks and investigating the criminal past of potential employees. The new law also exempts employers working with children and vulnerable adults who are prohibited from hiring people with criminal records. For more information, visit

According to a “Ban the Box” Resource Guide from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) updated in April 2013, nine states – Colorado, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Mexico – have joined the movement to remove the criminal record question from job applications. In addition,  50 cities and counties have adopted “Ban the Box” reforms including: Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Boston, MA; Chicago, IL; Cincinnati, OH; Cleveland, OH; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO; Minneapolis, MN; New York, NY; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; San Francisco, CA; Seattle, WA; St. Paul, MN; and Washington, DC. The Resource Guide from NELP is available at

A March 2011 study from NELP – ‘65 Million “Need Not Apply” – The Case for Reforming Criminal Background Checks for Employment’ – found that more than one in four adults in the United States had criminal records. The study estimated that 64.6 million people in the United States – representing 27.8 percent of the U.S. adult population – had a criminal record for either an arrest or a conviction on file with states. Since employers use criminal background checks for screening, criminal records may cause applicants to be denied jobs even for arrests or minor convictions that occurred in the distant past. The study from NELP, a non-profit organization that focuses on issues affecting low-wage and unemployed workers, is available at

This growing trend of cities and states adopting “Ban the Box” policies removing the criminal history question from job applications is one of the ‘ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends for 2013’ chosen each year by Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR). The full list of trends is available at ESR – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – is a nationwide background screening provider accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®). For more information, visit or call Toll Free 888.999.4474.


About Employment Screening Resources® (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more about ESR, visit or call toll free 888.999.4474.

About ESR News:

The Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at [email protected]. To subscribe to the ESR News Blog Feed, visit To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit

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