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Illinois Public Records Laws

Illinois’s Freedom of Information Act (IL FOIA) grants individuals the statutory right to access, inspect and copy many government documents and materials. Additionally, anyone who places a request for public documents does not need to disclose their reasoning for desiring the information they are searching out.

Individuals looking to access public records are entitled to view and copy any records in association with public bodies such as state universities and colleges, cities, townships and villages, as well as executive, legislative and administrative government agencies. The designation of an item as public record is rather broad, and it includes any maps, books, photographs, cards, tapes, microfilms, electronic media or other materials that have been sent, received or stored by a public body.

While many documents and materials are accessible, some exemptions apply that allow a government body to deny a request for public records. These exemptions include not supplying trade secrets, financial information or any answer keys that could be used to compromise the validity of a formal test. Although these exemptions apply to many documents, a public body must still present any portion of an otherwise exempt document that does not violate any exemptions.

For more information regarding the public records laws of Illinois, examine chapter 5, act 140 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes in its entirety.

Illinois Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

The Illinois Uniform Conviction Information Act (UCIA) mandates that all criminal history records conviction information that has been maintained or collected by the Illinois State Police be made available to the public. These public records only contain conviction information, however, and do not supply other instances of interaction with law enforcement.

In order to acquire criminal records, there must be a request form and fee payment delivered to the Illinois Bureau of Identification. Request forms can either be non-fingerprint or fingerprint based, the latter confirming positive identification of the person to whom the fingerprints on the request form belong.

The Illinois State Police are also responsible for issuing state background checks, and they have created a guide to examining Illinois background checks.

Illinois Jail and Inmate Records

Illinois jail and inmate records can be found through the Illinois Department of Corrections. A name-based search database has been created for online inmate searches, and it can be accessed on the Illinois Department of Corrections website.

More information regarding Illinois’s jail and inmate records can be found within Illinois’s Victim Notification Service (VINE) Profile.

Illinois Court Records

Illinois Court Records at the state and local levels can be obtained by submitting a written request to the clerk at the court in which the case was held. They will usually be able to supply individuals with this form upon request. Many records are accessible by right, but rights of access do not cover all court records in Illinois.

The contact information for the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts can be found on the Illinois Courts government webpage.

Illinois Vital Records

Vital Records are handled by the Illinois Department of Public Health and include birth records, death records, marriage records, dissolution of marriage records, adoption records, genealogy records, civil union records and dissolution of civil union records. The earliest Illinois birth and death records on file date back to 1877, with formal state registration beginning in 1916. Birth records are not public records in the state of Illinois, and only very few people are entitle to receive copies of them. Birth certificates older than 75 years, however, can be accessed for purposes of genealogical research.

Illinois vital records can be accessed by placing a request through the county clerk’s office.

Let’s also look at the details of employment background checks conducted in Illinois.

Eligibility for Employment in Illinois

IL is an employment “at will” state meaning that employment can be terminated at any time by either the employer or employee– although the employer cannot discharge an employee based on race, age, sex, or disability. Generally, one must be at least 16 years of age to be employed. Exceptions are granted to minors– specifically 14 and 15 year-old– working in non-hazardous professions and only working during non-school hours. Professions deemed hazardous include ones that may seem less than obvious such as working at an ice-skating rink or bowling alley.

Drug Screening

There is no law that requires nor prohibits employers from conducting a drug screening in Illinois. Many may fall prey to the misconception that the Illinois Drug Free Workplace Act enforces a drug test; rather, it simply states that workplaces must be free from drugs. If one is to do drugs off the job, they don’t fit this provision. This law applies to employers with 25 or more employees, and mirrors a federal law called the Drug Free Workplace Act of 1988.

Employers that qualify under the Illinois Drug Free Workplace Act must:

  • publish a statement announcing the drug free workplace policy
  • post and distribute the notice/statement to all employees involved in contract or grant work with the state/ federal government
  • establish a drug free awareness program to inform employees of potential penalties, available counseling, and dangers of drug use in the workplace
  • notify the contracting or granting agency of any criminal drug convictions of employees
  • impose penalties or require employees to complete a rehabilitation program in response to any such convictions
  • assist employees if drug 5 counseling, treatment and rehabilitation are required
  • make a good faith effort at maintaining a drug free workplace.

Background Screening in Illinois

In Illinois, employers may consider prior convictions when making employment decisions. However, use of arrest information or sealed or expunged convictions is prohibited. As long as a firm gets permission from the subject who is being checked, said firm can obtain criminal background checks from either a private firm or the IL state police. Background screenings can be made required in order to advance in the employment process.

If one is a non-licensed health care worker providing direct care to patients in Illinois, they are required to have criminal background checks performed by the Illinois State Police. The same rule of conducting criminal background checks applies to individuals applying for positions involving direct, daily contact with students anywhere within a school district in Illinois.

Medical and Psychiatric Exams for Determination of Employment

Medical and psychiatric exams can be used to screen applicants to see if they would be able to perform the position in question safely and efficiently. However, under no circumstances may such an exam discriminate against an applicant with disabilities. A safeguard against discrimination occurring has become the implementation of such a test only after a position has already been offered. In other words, employments at that point is conditional upon passing the test of ability. As long as the applicant can perform the conditions of the job safely and efficiently either with or without reasonable accommodation, an employer may not discriminate based upon disability.

If an employer uses medical and psychiatric exams, they must use them on all applicants. Additionally, they must come last in terms of all other types of screening used– this is also separately required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers must make reasonable accommodations when appropriate, and take all necessary steps to keep medical information confidential. This includes medical examinations and test results. The doctor performing any medical examination should be informed of the precise nature and demands of the position so that they can examine the applicant in terms of the specific job requirements.

Other Laws and Screenings

Illinois used to be a state in which one could be screened for employment in terms of credit score. However, in 2010, then IL Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill into law that prohibited such a practice. There are certain exceptions to this rule, which include positions in which bonding or security is required per state or federal law, where there is unsupervised access to more than $2,500, signatory power over businesses assets of more than $100, management or control over the business, and access to personal, financial or confidential information, trade secrets, or state or national security information. If an employer does request a credit check, the page on which the job applicant signs must only concern the credit check– e.g. nothing else extraneous may be on the page.

Outside of Illinois, credit checks have been fairly popular in practice, with over 60 per cent of employers doing one in some regard.

North Carolina

North Carolina Public Records Laws

North Carolina’s Public Records Law grants individuals the statutory right to inspect and copy a large amount of North Carolina public records. This is based on the belief of North Carolina that the information held within the public records is the property of the people.

The law dictates that any record of a public agency is accessible to the public through a request. A public agency is defined broadly as any agency of North Carolina government or one of its subdivisions. Within this scope fall public offices, institutions, boards, bureaus, councils, departments and commissions serving the state government.

The materials defined as public record are also broad, including any document, map, paper, letter, book, photograph, film or electronic data made or received in regards to public business by a government agency. Any of these items can be requested, but an agency may deny a request if an exemption is applicable. Exemptions include not divulging information regarding certain government lawsuit settlements, withholding access to criminal investigation records and multiple others.

For further information regarding North Carolina’s public records law, examine chapter 132 of North Carolina’s General Statute in its entirety.

North Carolina Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

North Carolina criminal records are maintained and distributed by the North Carolina Division of Adult Correction. Only Criminal Justice personnel may apply to receive information maintained in the offender information online database that has been password protected, as these precautions have been set in place so only authorized personnel may access the information.

There is a public name-based search database as well, which can be used to search for offenders by name, offender number, gender, race, ethnic group, birth data and age range. The database entry for any given offender may include information regarding their name, offender number, sentence type, probation status and offense date. The public online database can be found on the North Carolina Department of Public Safety website.

The North Carolina Court System is responsible for overseeing and distributing state issued background checks. Individuals may request a one-time background check or continue the process with ongoing criminal background checks. More information regarding the two options can be found on The North Carolina Court System website.

North Carolina Jail and Inmate Records

Jail and inmate records for North Carolina may be found using the same name-based search database as for North Carolina criminal records, which is run by the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. Searches for jail and inmate records can be conducted using the inmate’s name, offender number, gender, race, ethnic group or birth date. The information reaped from a search can include the offender’s name, gender, race, incarceration stats, current location and sentence history.

More information regarding North Carolina’s jail and inmate records can be found within North Carolina’s Victim Notification Service (VINE) Profile.

North Carolina Court Records

North Carolina Court Records are, for the most part, available to public access and copying. The right to access court documents is not absolute, however, and contacting the court clerk before requesting documents will help with a more successful search.

Online requests can be made through the Eastern District of North Carolina United States District Court website for cases within the Eastern District of North Carolina only.

Further information regarding requesting North Carolina Court Records can be found on the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts website.

North Carolina Vital Records

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is responsible for maintaining and distributing North Carolina Vital Records. These records include birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates. Birth certificates are available from 1913, death records are available from 1930, marriage certificates are available form 1962, divorce certificates are available from 1958 and fetal death reports are available from 2001.

Certificates may be ordered using the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services website. Same day service for vital records is available when visiting the walk-in window at the Raleigh location of the department.

If you need North Carolina background checks specifically for employment, read on!

North Carolina Background Checks

As far as criminal background checks go, North Carolina carries a slightly easier system than many states. While North Carolina is lighter than most states, many professions still require that an employee screening be done prior to employment.

What Professions Require Background Checks in North Carolina?

There a multitude of professions in NC that require a criminal check by the state. These positions include anyone applying to:

• Hospitals
• Nursing homes
• Mental health facilities
• Home care agencies
• Day care facilities
• Child Placement agencies
• Substance abuse facilities
• Any for profit or non profit institution that provides care to children, the sick, disabled or senior citizens.

While an employee background check is required for all of these positions, it is important to note that the employer cannot just start a background check. All employers are required by North Carolina state law to gain consent from prospective employees prior to starting a background check. Any employee that does not want a background check does not have to be employed.

What to consider before doing NC Employment Screening

There are a few things to consider when employers conduct a background check. These include the level of a particular crime. Was it a felony? How serious was the crime? How frequently did it occur? The employer must also consider when the crime occurred and how old the potential employee was when the crime was committed. On top of this, it is important to take into consideration the circumstances surrounding a potential crime and why the future employee might have committed the crime.

Even if an applicant has committed a serious crime, it is not enough to prevent them from getting the job. The employer has to consider a number of factors and if it is deemed acceptable, the applicant may still be hired. If the employee is not hired, the employer has the right to tell the applicant why they were barred from the job, but they are not allowed to show the applicant the criminal record they obtained.

Applicants are protected by two separate laws regarding employment screening. The Fair Credit Reporting Act provides protection to applicants that may have been the victim of inaccurate criminal records. Many employers hire a third-party organization to handle the employment screening.

Do Applicants in NC have to disclose Expunged Convictions?

In North Carolina, it is not required for applicants to let employers know about expunged crimes and employers are not permitted to ask if an applicant has had any crimes expunged from their record. If these expunged crimes are uncovered during a background check, it can greatly hinder one’s ability to get hired.

Laws for Nurses, Barbers and Other Professionals in NC

Depending on what type of job one is applying for, the background check laws differ. Whether it be a teacher, nurse, doctor, or barber, North Carolina separates the laws regarding employment based on the type of job and licensing board that the job reports with and oversees. According to law 115C-296, the North Carolina State Board of Education is prohibited from hiring anyone with a criminal record.

The same thing applies to the nursing occupation. Any nurse that has committed a crime that the state views as making them incapable of being a competent nurse can be barred from being hired.

Barbers also face a similar dilemma when looking for jobs, albeit one that is more strict. Barbers may be refused a job if they have committed any felony at all. Their employers do not have to consider what the felony was or the circumstances surrounding that felony at all. The barber law can be viewed at the following website.

North Carolina is overall a friendly state for employees and potential hires. By preventing employers from seeing expunged crimes and establishing two solid laws that protect prospective employees. Employers are forced to consider the circumstances surrounding a crime unlike in other states where this is not required. North Carolina remains a spot that is great to be a potential hire even if a potential criminal record exists.


Texas Public Records Laws

Many public records can be obtained relatively easily in Texas, although certain application requirements and fees are often imposed. In some cases, additional measures may also be demanded in order to ensure public safety. Common documents, such as criminal histories, court reports or vital records, can often be requested through a simple online application. The maintenance and delivery of these records fall under multiple government agencies, but many will be overseen by either the Texas Department of Public Safety or the Texas Office of Court Administration.

Additionally, Texas’s Public Information Act, also known as Texas Government Code 522, grants citizens the right to access the records of government bodies and representatives. Although all government information is presumed to be available without questioning, there are some exceptions to the rule. For instance, any information that has been deemed confidential by law, either constitutionally, statutorily or judicially, or any document that currently has an exception pending at the time of the request, is not immediately accessible. Otherwise, all public records, including the voting history of a government employee, can be viewed or copied upon request.For further clarification regarding information availability and exemption, examine Texas Government Code 522 in its entirety.

Texas Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Texas criminal and arrest records for individuals charged with Class B misdemeanor or greater violations are publicly available for viewing and copying. These records include disposition of cases, convictions and deferred adjudications. All documents can be searched for using the website for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Background and criminal history checks can be obtained through the Department of Public Safety.  These records can be accessed by either utilizing the online name-based search function or by submitting a completed authorized fingerprint card along with the appropriate fee to the Department of Public Safety.

As with criminal and arrest histories, the Texas Department of Public Safety is responsible for issuing official state background checks. In Texas, background checks are conducted by name-based search only through the Department of Public Safety’s Conviction Database, which is populated with the information stored in Texas’s Computerized Criminal History system.

Texas Court Records

State or county level court records can be obtained through the Texas Office of Court Administration. Overseen by the Texas Supreme Court, the Office of Court Administration is responsible for maintaining and providing information, documents and resources involving the court system of the state of Texas. More information regarding the procurement of court records can be found on the official Open Records Policy webpage. Contacting the specific county or municipal court in which the case was tried may also yield results.

Texas Vital Records

Texas Vital Records are overseen by the Texas Department of State Health Services and can be requested either online or in person. Birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates can all be ordered online using this application to order Texas Vital Records. Payment for these orders can be made with a credit card or major debit card, and they are usually processed within 10 to 15 business days. Amendments to Vital Records can be requested by following the guidelines listed on the Texas Vital Statistics website.

Verification of existing records may also be requested through the Texas Department of State Health Services, but the fees associated with locating the document are nonrefundable, even if the documents does not exist.


California Public Records Laws

Accessing and inspecting public records is deemed a statutory right in California’s Public Records Act (CPRA). Any individual, partnership, corporation or limited liability company, either within California or not, can request access to public records without any explanation of intent. The governmental bodies covered by this law range from state offices, departments and divisions to school districts, municipal corporations and government officials.

Information is considered public record if it directly relates to the conduct of the public’s business and has been prepared, utilized, stored or owned by any local or state agency. In addition, the medium in which the information was stored does not have any bearing over its status as a public record. However, an agency may refuse access to their records if they believe that withholding the information will serve the public in a greater capacity than allowing it to be seen.

There is a specific exception to the openness of California’s public records law, which states that if the address of someone who has been arrested or has been a victim of a crime is being requested, then there must be an explanation as to what purpose the records will serve if released. In order for the request to be granted, the records must be used for scholarly, journalistic, political or governmental purposes, and it must also be declared that the information will not be used in order to sell a service or product.

For further information regarding the release and accessibility of California public records, examine the complete text of the California Public Records Act.

California Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

California criminal records are available through multiple law enforcement controlled databases. The records within these databases may offer public criminal records, police records and Federal criminal records.

The California Department of Justice is responsible for processing fingerprint-based background checks. In the past few years, the number of requests for background checks going through the California Department of Justice has increased drastically since many employers have discovered they can be requested for hiring purposes.

California Jail and Inmate Records

Jail, incarceration, prison, and inmate records are found in the same law enforcement run databases as California’s other criminal records. They are also available for search in the same name-based fashion.

More information regarding California’s jail and inmate records can be found within California’s Victim Notification Service (VINE) Profile.

California Court Records

California court records for the state and local level are made available for public inspection by the Judicial Council of California. Any public court record can be requested for viewing, however in some cases requests will be denied. These cases include any instance wherein a record is deemed exempt from public disclosure.

The judicial council does not, however, maintain any records, criminal histories or documents that are related to specific cases that have been filed in the Superior Court system of California. In order to gain access to these documents, individuals interested in seeking out these documents should send their request to the California Superior Court directly.

Request forms for California Court Records can be accessed on the California Courts section of the California Government website. Once completed, these request forms should be delivered to the Public Access to Records Project by mail, fax or email.

California Vital Records

The California Department of Public Health processes requests for birth, death, marriage and divorce records. Birth and death records are on file from 1905 to present day. In addition to birth and death records, fetal death and stillborn death records are also available from the California Department of Public Health.

Requests for these records can be made on the California Department of Public Health website.

If you need an employment background check in California, certain issues may arise. Read on for more info:
An employment background check is something an employer can use to learn more information about a possible new hire. Employment background checks are a form of screening that companies use to gather information regarding financial, criminal, and commercial records during the hiring process. Background checks can be used to help employers prevent work place violence, falsified credentials, and embezzlement. Those who are seeking employment in California must be aware that may have to undergo an in depth screening before they can be fully offered certain positions.

General Requirements for California Background Checks

In every state around the country there are specific requirements an applicant must meet when being considered for an employment position. Many states have requirements that can make the job hunt every more strenuous. Similar to their easygoing residents, California’s legislation has enforced a few more relaxed rules when conducting background checks. For example, in the state of California, an employer cannot seek information on an arrest unless it resulted in a conviction or the applicant is pending trial.

Also, an employer has limitations for the information that is usable. In California companies are only permitted to use convictions within the past seven years when conducting an employment screening. This allows for applicants with minor charges or out of date convictions to be considered with much less bias.


Most importantly employers must keep in mind that potential candidates must first give written consent for employers to run a background check. They must also share the results with the candidate and notify them if they do not receive the job based on the information in the report.

Special Requirements

Although a criminal check can seem intimidating to many applicants, it can be an extremely helpful tool in the hiring process. Employment screenings are especially accommodating when the position is dealing with vulnerable citizenry such as the elderly, young children and dependent adults. Applicants who are looking for work in fields such as healthcare, education, or government will be required to submit to some form of screening. Positions in the healthcare industry require a lot of consideration because those in healthcare facilities are reliant upon honest and trustworthy staff members.

For example, an employer at a healthcare facility could only conduct a screening for driving records if the job is for a driving position. Also applicants for positions in the healthcare industry can only be questioned by employers about sex related arrests if they will be working with patients. Similar laws are in place for potential employees who have access to medications; employers can question the candidate if they have a history of drug related arrest.

Employers in healthcare facilities are allowed to have access to certain records to ensure that their employees are well-equipped to fulfill their duties efficiently. The state of California is also up to date with the latest form of employment screening, fingerprint analysis. Fingerprint based background screenings are known to be the most comprehensive method of pre-employment screening.

The California Health and Safety Code require that all applicants, licensees, and volunteers must submit to a fingerprint screening during the employment process. Fingerprint analysis is one of the most widely used methods for pre-employment screening because fingerprints cannot be forged.

What shows up on a background check?

Californian employers in certain industries are fully permitted to perform background screening on prospective candidates. Although it is legal to conduct background checks, employers must receive consent before performing any screening and employers are also required to inform the candidate of the results. There are other restrictions that have been placed on criminal checks in the state of California.

California Employment Screening Limitations

There are limitations as to what can be shown on an employment background check. Under the California Labor Code any arrest or detention that did not result in conviction or criminal records that have been sealed, expunged, or dismissed is not usable information during the hiring process. Sealed criminal records are ones that are not accessible by anyone without a court order. Expunging criminal records refers to the process of “cleaning up” a background check.  If a potential candidate has a criminal past and their records fall under the previous categories, that information will not appear on a background check.

Employers however, can ask questions about any conviction and any pending arrests that are shown. The state of California does not differentiate between misdemeanors and felonies, both are displayed on an employment screening. Unfortunately, some mistakes that were made in the past can be shown on California background checks. For example, if an applicant has offenses that occurred when they were a Juvenile, that information is legally usable by employers during the hiring process.

California criminal checks only show crimes that go back 7 years prior and this includes convictions. However, if an applicant is seeking a position in the law enforcement, elderly care, and finance fields their potential employer has the right to check crimes that go back further than 7 years. These specific regulations are vital because they allow the hiring process to remain fair yet very selective.

Credit Reports in California

One of methods many companies use when screening for potential candidates is to run credit reports and learn more about the applicant’s financial history. Credit reports can be very useful because they display one’s financial and personal decisions. Credit reports provide employers with a plethora of information including an applicant’s full name, birthplace, social security number, and employment history. Often time’s companies can be discriminatory against applicants with poor credit history because they feel as if it can indicate irresponsibility and potential embezzlement activity. This can be troublesome for individuals who have landed in unfortunate financial situation such as an unexpected automotive accident, divorce, or medical bills. Fortunately in CA. an employer cannot review consumer credit reports for the purpose of employment with the exception of certain financial institutions. A company in California can only review consumer credit reports on those applying for managerial, Department of Justice, and law enforcement positions. Applicants in this field are carefully selected mainly because they have access to monetary fund’s thus requiring a candidate who can be trusted.

It is so important that prospective hires are aware of the requirements they must meet when seeking employment in California. The state has set specific criteria for their employees as they wish to create a healthy, trusting, productive work environment. Failure to meet a company’s employment guidelines could result in a missed job opportunity, so employees should always be qualified, prepared, and knowledgeable when applying for any position.


A Midwestern state, Minnesota was created from the eastern section of the Minnesota Territory and is bordered by Lake Superior and Canada to the north.  Minnesota is the 12th largest state in the U.S., and nearly 60 percent of its 5.4 million residents live in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, also known as the Twin Cities.  With a diverse landscape and an even more diverse population, Minnesota has a lot to offer its residents and has long made provisions for the sharing of its records with the public.

Minnesota Public Records Laws

The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) was originally passed in 1974 and amendments were made in 1993.  The Act is found in Chapter 13 of the Minnesota Statutes, and the law imposes some of the highest sanctions of any other state against those who knowingly violate its provisions, with damages allowed up to $15,000 per incident.

Under the Act, “any person” may request public records in Minnesota and this includes individuals, corporations, and their legal representatives.  The reason for the application does not need to be stated, except in matters of potential invasion of privacy, and the use of the records once obtained is unrestricted.

Records that are covered by the Act include those from all state agencies, including the executive branch.  The legislative and judicial branches are not included although some legislative records are available, and the Rules of Public Access apply to the disclosure of court records.  Records that cannot be obtained, or are exempt, include:

  • Educational records
  • Medical records
  • Investigatory records
  • Security-related data
  • Sealed ballots
  • Library records
  • Welfare data
  • Foster care information
  • Domestic abuse data

Minnesota Criminal Records, Arrest Records and Background Checks

Background checks in Minnesota are administered by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA).  The department has an open-access website where any member of the public can do a public records search on anyone else for free, and the results will return a 15-year criminal history for the state of Minnesota.  However, if the report is to be used for employment, housing, or credit purposes, the applicant must be informed in writing of this.  A more complete check, including a search of FBI records, can be done when a signed consent is received.

Minnesota Jail and Inmate Records

To find information on the correctional facilities in the state of Minnesota, services for victims, and to search for an offender, you can visit the state Department of Corrections website.  To locate an offender in the system, you’ll want to search on the Offender Locator page with either a MnDOC Offender ID or a Name and Date of Birth.  You’ll be given the offender’s current location, sentence date, offense information, and estimated earliest release date.

Minnesota Court Records

To locate any information on the courts or court cases in the state of Minnesota, you can search the administrator of the courts website.  The Minnesota Public Access (MPA) website allows the public to search for such things as trial, civil, family, and criminal case records, wills deposited with the court, and appellate court cases.  Full case files may need to be requested from the courthouse where the case was heard.

Minnesota Vital Records

Vital records in Minnesota in the form of birth and death certificates are administered by the Minnesota Department of Health, Office of Vital Records.  Birth certificates are available from 1900 to present and death certificates from 1908 to present.   You must show “tangible interest” to receive any of these documents in Minnesota.  This means proving that you are either listed on the certificate or are a relative, legal guardian, legal representative, or business with an interest.  To request either of these in Minnesota, you can do the following:

  • In Person: You can only apply for a birth or death certificate in person at a local county office if they offer this service.   The main Office of Vital Records does not provide walk-in service.
  • By Mail:   You can mail a complete application with payment and the required documentation to: Minnesota Department of Health, Central Cashiering – Vital Records, P.O. Box 64499, St. Paul, MN 55164
  • Email:  Fax your completed application with the required documentation to 951-201-5740.

Marriage certificates and divorce decrees are only available from the county in which the event took place.  Procedures to request these and dates available will vary depending on the location.

If you’re looking to perform employment background checks in Minnesota, or to screen potential hires, there are certain restrictions you may need to file. Read on for more info.

There are certain states, such as California, New York and Wisconsin, which are considered to be pro-jobseeker states when it comes to background check laws. Minnesota is also a state that falls into this job-seeker friendly category. These states don’t have laws that completely prohibit the use of background checks and the information obtained to determine whether someone is hireable or not; however, it does place certain limitations on the background check process and the extent that the information can be used to determine whether a person is hireable.

The Important Role of Background Checks

Immediate access to the pertinent background information of applicants has totally revolutionized the human resources industry. The capacity to almost immediately gain access to a broad range of personal and even private data, provides these companies with a wealth of data through which they can develop a rather lucid portrait of potential employees. However, the challenge is determining how much access is too much, as well as determining just what a company can use or not use in their decision making process.

This is why states go to great lengths to protect job seekers from companies that will abuse the background check process without handcuffing the businesses completely. There are some states with very loose laws that provide a great deal of latitude for companies to use background checks in their hiring process, while other states place more emphasis on protecting the rights and privacy of the job seeker. Minnesota falls under the latter category.

The Diverse Nature of a Background Check

Obviously, one of the most common areas of concern when it comes to background checks is criminal history. For the purpose of protecting employees, clients and company property and assets, companies place a significant amount of gravity on criminal history. Although having a criminal history does not automatically bar a person from employment, it can create challenges, depending on the type of crime that was committed, as well as how long ago the crime was committed.

Under Minnesota law, any company that is functioning as a business screening service may only disseminate criminal history that is reflective of a person’s accurate and complete record. Ultimately, this means that any data that is provided to a company as a part of a criminal background check must have been updated no later than 30 days prior to the information being passed on to the company requesting the background check. The law also requires that this data be verified with the primary data source within the last 90 days. Companies providing business screening services or employment criminal background checks must allow any person that this is the subject of a background check to dispute the criminal history that is revealed on any report that is being distributed to a business requesting information on the subject.

Dealing with Juvenile Records

When it comes to conducting a background check on juveniles, the law only allows access to a juvenile’s prior criminal history as a prerequisite for specific types of employment in specific occupations or for specified noncriminal justice system purposes. Occupations in which public safety is an issue or jobs that involve other minors are a couple of the categories that apply here.

Ban the Box Protections

Ban the box protection laws were first enacted in Minnesota is 1974, and they were most recently amended in 2013. These laws provide specific limitation on the ability of companies to access and use a person’s criminal history as a basis for denying employment. These restrictions apply to public and private employers and licensing agencies. One law prohibits the consideration of a person’s criminal history until that person has been selected for an interview. This law is designed to ensure that criminal history cannot be used solely as a disqualifying criteria for potential employees. For a person to be selected for an interview suggests that they have, at least, met the minimum requirements for the job.

When it comes to licensing decisions and public employment, no government agency can consider any criminal record that is not followed by a conviction, expunged convictions or misdemeanor convictions in which no jail sentence can be imposed.

Additionally, when it comes to public employment, a person cannot be denied employment based on criminal history unless the offense in question is directly associated with the position that the person is applying for. To ensure that this particular statute is followed, there are specific provisions and criteria that must be met by the employer to prove direct association.

When it comes to licensing, any person that is covered by these statutes that is rejected must be provided a notice of the reasons why they were rejected. The licensing agency must also include information on the statutory complaint and grievance process and the earliest day that the applicant can reapply. Where applicable, the agency must also make the applicant aware of the fact that any evidence of rehabilitation will be considered for future applications.

Occupations and Activities Serving Children

When it comes to occupations that focus on serving children, the state of Minnesota requires a mandatory background check. For instance, any person offered employment in a position by a school that is serving children from Kindergarten through 12th grade must clear a criminal background check, including athletic and extracurricular activity coaches and teachers.

In this case, there is no limit on the look-back period, meaning that the background check can go back as far as necessary. This normally includes instate and out-of-state sources.

There are some exceptions to the mandatory statute. For instance, the hiring authority does not have to request a background check for someone who has received their license within the last 12 months. The hiring authority also has the option to use a background check that has been conducted by another school or hiring authority if the background check was conducted in the last 12 months.

This statute also allows for the termination of those who were hired pending the results of their background check. The statute also requires that the applicant provide a money order or check payable to BCA or the hiring authority for the purpose of covering the cost of the background check.

Although this statute mandates a background check, it does not prohibit the hiring authority from hiring someone with a criminal history, and the hiring authority will not be held liable for terminating or failing to hire an individual based on the results of the background check.

For those who are applying to work on a volunteer basis at institutions that serve children from kindergarten to 12th grade, background checks are optional and left to the discretion of the hiring authority.

Outside of the statutes that impact individuals who are applying for positions involving children, the background check laws in Minnesota overwhelmingly favor the job-seeker. The idea is to protect the privacy of individuals as well as protect against the proclivity of companies to refuse employment to individuals with criminal histories.

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