Existing Michigan law has served to prevent private employers from considering criminal records “set aside” by law (more commonly known as expungement) in hiring and personnel decisions. An amendment to that law, which took effect on January 12, expands the circumstances under which ex-offenders may seek to set aside their criminal records and, thus, may further inhibit employers from accessing the criminal records of their applicants and employees. Employers who violate the law are subject to imprisonment of not more than 90 days and/or a fine of not more than $500.

The amendment does permit “victims” (i.e., individuals who “suffer direct or threatened physical, financial, or emotional harm as a result of the offense”) to disclose or use such records. In addition, as described in our prior blog post, another Michigan law took effect in early January that serves to protect companies that hire ex-offenders who cause damage or injury during the course of their employment.

Nevertheless, with this most recent amendment to the law, Michigan continues a growing trend across the country limiting the ability of employers to ask about or otherwise consider an applicant’s or employee’s criminal records.