A new Minnesota law that took effect on January 1 expands the opportunities for ex-offenders to expunge their criminal records. In an effort to protect employers who hire employees with expunged records, the new law provides that such records “may not be introduced as evidence in a civil litigation against a private employer . . . that is based on the conduct of the employee” (such as in a negligent hiring suit). Alabama recently included a similar provision in the state’s expungement law (as we blogged about in August), and a growing number of jurisdictions have passed broader laws to protect employers from negligent hiring and retentions suits when hiring ex-offenders (see our write-ups on the Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Texas laws).
The new law comes into effect exactly one year after Minnesota’s “ban the box” law took effect to prohibit private employers from inquiring into an applicant’s criminal record on the initial job application. Minnesota’s “ban the box” law similarly provides that information regarding an employee’s criminal record “may not be introduced as evidence in a civil action against a private employer” where “the action is based solely upon the employer’s compliance” with the law.