One question that frequently arises for employers when running a background check is which state’s/city’s law applies.  In Olson v. Push, Inc., No. 14-1163 ADM/JJK, 2014 WL 4097040 (D. Minn. Aug. 19, 2014), the District of Minnesota recently held that the state’s drug testing statute did not cover an applicant who lived and submitted to a drug test in the state, but who applied for employment outside of the state, expressing concerns that a broader interpretation of the law would likely violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, as well as rights of due process.

Specifically, even though the statute broadly applies to any entity “doing business in the state,” the court found that it was unreasonable to construe this phrase to apply to jobs outside the state.   It reasoned that, since the law defines employee only in relation to the employer, “the employment, and not the residence of the employee, is the key consideration.”  The court also relied on the absence of extra-territorial language in the statute in reaching this conclusion.

Although Olson concerned the application of a Minnesota drug testing statute, the court’s rationale can be applied to other state and local laws that are unclear as to their reach.