Have you ever wondered if you could pursue public employment after a criminal conviction? The idea of working for the State of Minnesota after a conviction may seem like an unlikely proposition. However, it may not be as unlikely as you think, thanks in part to Minnesota Statute § 364.01.
First, it is necessary to define “public employment.” Public employment refers to employment with the State of Minnesota, its agencies or political subdivision. Licensure is considered to be all licenses, permits, certificates, registrations, or other means required to engage in an occupation, granted by the state of Minnesota. Examples of this would include: city employees, teachers, and emergency service workers.
In Minnesota Statute § 364.01, the Minnesota State legislature states its policy is to both encourage and contribute to the rehabilitation of those citizens with criminal convictions. Employment is an essential component of the rehabilitation process under this policy.
In general, a conviction may not be used as a bar to public employment, unless the criminal conviction directly relates to the employment itself. When examining whether a crime relates to the position, the hiring or licensing authority examines: 1) the nature and severity of the crime itself; 2) the relationship of the crime to purpose of regulating the position of public employment sought; and 3) the relationship of the crimes to the ability, capacity, and fitness required to perform the duties of the position.
Even if your criminal conviction is shown to relate to the public employment position, you can still qualify for the position by presenting evidence of rehabilitation. Examples of rehabilitation evidence include:
- A local, state, or federal release order;
- Evidence showing at least one year from release of a local, state, or federal institution, as well as evidence of no convictions following the release and compliance with probation or parole;
- A copy of discharge order showing completion of probation or parole; or
- A DD-214 showing honorable discharge or separation from military service.
There are additional documents that can be submitted to supplement evidence of rehabilitation such as information surrounding the nature of the crimes, any mitigating circumstances or social conditions surrounding the crime, age at the time the crime was committed, the length of time that has elapsed since then, and any letters of reference since the time of release.
If you are denied employment or licensing solely based on a prior conviction, the hiring authority must notify in writing providing the reason for denial, the resources for filing a complaint or grievance, the earliest date for reapplication, and that the hiring authority will consider any further evidence of rehabilitation that is submitted with a reapplication.
While rehabilitation may work in your case, another option is to get an “expungement.” This involves sealing public records of your offense, see another one of our blogs about expungements here. For more information relating to expungements, reach out to our office!