The Minnesota Senate has recently voted for legislation to prohibit employers from asking about an applicant's criminal history until and unless they are called in for an interview or the applicant is selected for employment. At that point, employers are allowed to ask about criminal history and may consider it as a disqualifier for employment, but only under certain circumstances. If employers aren't careful, this so called "ban-the-box" legislation could end up as employment litigation.
If an applicant is brought in for an interview, the prospective employer may then ask about criminal history or run a criminal background check. However, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cautions employers that if there is a criminal history, it must be related to the position in order to truly be a reason not to hire someone. For instance, it would be appropriate to deny employment to an interviewee based on a criminal history of theft if the position that person is applying for is as a cashier.