John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
612-217-4988 877-390-4527

Background checks and Minnesota employment discrimination

No matter the degree of the incident, being a victim of employment discrimination is a difficult situation for employees and applicants in Minnesota and other states throughout the country. When an individual believes he or she is being mistreated or unfairly treated, due to a personal characteristic, such as race, he or she could file a cause of action to address the situation and seek damages related to the situation.

One concerning issue that has been cited in the hiring process is background checks. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEOC) Enforcement Guidance is used to address the concerns regarding the consideration of arrest and conviction records in the course of employment decisions. Moreover, these issues are covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but are addressed in updated enforcement guidance documents by the EEOC.

While considering the criminal history of applicants and employees when making employment decisions can legally be made, in some instances, this information could be used in violation of the prohibition against employment discrimination. While employers could use past convictions of crimes when making employment decisions, employers are not able to use arrest records to base employment decisions.

Misusing background checks could result in employment discrimination based on race and national origin. If a background check is used to illegal differentiate applicants or employees, this could be considered discrimination. Any instance of discrimination in the workplace could result in a cause of action and charges placed against the employer pending investigation.

While certain attributes and past experiences found in a background check could ethically and legally be used in the hiring process by an employer, the misuse of such information could be deemed discrimination. Employees or applicants who believed they have been unfairly treated or discriminated against following an employment background check, it is important to understand what options are available.

Source: EEOC.gov, "EEOC Enforcement Guidance," accessed on Aug. 10, 2015

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