April 2023 marks the introduction of automated expungements in Michigan, making it more critical than ever for employers and landlords to stay informed about the state’s expungement laws. With these changes, more people are now eligible to have their criminal records expunged, which may impact your hiring and tenant screening processes. This blog post will provide an overview of Michigan’s expungement laws, discuss the implications of automated expungements for employers and landlords, and offer guidance on how to navigate these changes.
Michigan’s Expungement Laws: An Overview
In April 2021, Michigan’s Clean Slate Act went into effect, expanding the types and numbers of offenses that can be expunged. Under the act, individuals could have up to 2 felony convictions expunged 10 years after sentencing or release from custody, and up to 4 misdemeanors expunged 7 years after sentencing.
Starting from April 2023, the process of expungement has become more accessible through the implementation of automated expungements. These expungements will automatically clear eligible convictions from an individual’s public record without requiring them to file a petition in court. . Certain serious offenses, such as assaultive crimes, human trafficking, and those involving minors or vulnerable adults, are not eligible for automatic expungement. The introduction of automated expungements is expected to affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people in Michigan.
Implications for Employers
As an employer, it is crucial to understand how these changes may affect your hiring process. With the introduction of automated expungements, more people will have their criminal records expunged, which could impact the pool of job applicants.
Once a conviction is expunged, it is no longer accessible to the public. It is illegal to consider them as part of an employment background check — and employers who do so can be sued. There are many attorneys who specialize in this, and who work free of charge for the rejected applicant. Wide-spread expungements make the use of cheap database background checks very problematic; once a record is in a database, it’s hard to remove.
To ensure compliance with federal and state anti-discrimination laws, employers should consider the following:
- Only use verified background checks that confirm any database records with real-time checks at the court.
- Review your hiring policies and practices to ensure they comply with Michigan’s expungement laws and do not unfairly discriminate against applicants with expunged records.
- Be aware of the limitations of background checks in revealing expunged records and consider additional methods of assessing an applicant’s suitability for the job.
Implications for Landlords
Landlords should also be aware of the potential impact of Michigan’s expungement laws, including automated expungements, on their tenant screening processes. With more people eligible for expungement, it is likely that some prospective tenants will have expunged records that are not accessible during background checks.
To comply with fair housing laws and avoid discrimination, landlords should:
- Update tenant screening policies to account for the changes in Michigan’s expungement laws, including the introduction of automated expungements.
- Consider additional methods for evaluating a prospective tenant’s rental history and suitability, such as references from previous landlords, credit checks, and employment verification.
Michigan’s expanded expungement laws and the introduction of automated expungements provide a fresh start for many individuals with past convictions, allowing them to access better job and housing opportunities. Unfortunately, it also adds legal risks for anyone with a careless background check screening process. At SentryLink we are committed to providing compliant, comprehensive results for our clients.