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Office of the Revisor of Statutes

Key: (1) language to be deleted (2) new language

                            CHAPTER 197-S.F.No. 486 
                  An act relating to firefighters; authorizing certain 
                  background investigations; requiring disclosures of 
                  certain employment information; providing civil and 
                  criminal penalties; providing employers immunity for 
                  certain disclosures; amending Minnesota Statutes 1998, 
                  section 604A.31, by adding a subdivision; proposing 
                  coding for new law in Minnesota Statutes, chapter 299F.
        BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 
           Section 1.  [299F.036] [FIREFIGHTER PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT 
        INVESTIGATIONS.] 
           Subdivision 1.  [PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT INVESTIGATIONS 
        AUTHORIZED.] The fire chief or administrative head of a fire 
        department as defined under section 299F.092, subdivision 6, may 
        conduct a previous employment investigation on an applicant for 
        a fire protection service position. 
           Subd. 2.  [DISCLOSURE OF EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION.] (a) Upon 
        request of a fire chief or an administrative head, an employer 
        shall disclose or otherwise make available for inspection 
        employment information of an employee or former employee who is 
        the subject of an investigation under subdivision 1.  The 
        request for disclosure of employment information must be in 
        writing, must be accompanied by an original authorization and 
        release signed by the employee or former employee, and must be 
        signed by the fire chief or administrative head conducting the 
        previous employment investigation. 
           (b) Upon request, the fire chief or administrative head 
        shall disclose to the applicant the information obtained under 
        this subdivision. 
           Subd. 3.  [REFUSAL TO DISCLOSE PERSONNEL RECORD.] If an 
        employer refuses to disclose employment information in 
        accordance with this section, upon request the district court 
        may issue an ex parte order directing the disclosure of the 
        employment information.  The request must be made by the fire 
        chief or administrative head conducting the investigation and 
        must include a copy of the original request for disclosure made 
        upon the employer or former employer and the authorization and 
        release signed by the employee or former employee.  The request 
        must be signed by the fire chief or administrative head 
        requesting the order and an attorney representing the state or 
        the political subdivision on whose behalf the investigation is 
        being conducted.  It is not necessary for the request or the 
        order to be filed with the court administrator.  Failure to 
        comply with the court order subjects the person who fails to 
        comply to civil or criminal contempt of court.  
           Subd. 4.  [IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY.] In the absence of 
        fraud or malice, an employer is immune from civil liability for 
        employment information released to a fire department under this 
        section, or for any subsequent publication made by the employee 
        or former employee of information released to a fire department 
        under this section. 
           Subd. 5.  [CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENTS.] If employment 
        information is subject to a confidentiality agreement between 
        the employee or former employee and the employer, the employer 
        shall disclose the fact that such an agreement exists.  If the 
        employee or former employee has authorized the release of 
        employment information without regard to any previous agreement 
        to the contrary, the employer shall also disclose the employment 
        information according to subdivision 2.  If employment 
        information is sealed or otherwise subject to a nondisclosure 
        order by a court of competent jurisdiction, the employer shall 
        disclose the fact that this order exists, along with information 
        identifying the court and court's file number. 
           Subd. 6.  [EMPLOYMENT INFORMATION DEFINED.] For purposes of 
        this section, "employment information" means written information 
        in connection with job applications, performance evaluations, 
        attendance records, disciplinary actions, and eligibility for 
        rehire. 
           Subd. 7.  [APPLICATION.] For purposes of this section, 
        "employer" does not include an entity that is subject to chapter 
        13. 
           Sec. 2.  Minnesota Statutes 1998, section 604A.31, is 
        amended by adding a subdivision to read: 
           Subd. 4.  [FIREFIGHTER AND PEACE OFFICER INVESTIGATIONS.] 
        Employers who provide information in conjunction with employment 
        investigations of applicants for fire protection service 
        positions or peace officer positions are immune from civil 
        liability as provided in section 299F.036, subdivision 4, or 
        626.87. 
           Presented to the governor May 20, 1999 
           Signed by the governor May 24, 1999, 9:36 a.m.