The lack of understanding of law, makes North Dakota a bad place to live.
Recently, I looked at an employment application that was given to two friends of mine. Three of the questions on this application were very troubling, but I will discuss just two of these questions:
“Have you been convicted of any charge as a juvenile, that you would have been convicted of if you were an adult?” If yes, explain.
“Have you ever received disciplinary action, or a complaint?” If yes, explain.
And, “I hereby swear that all of the answers on this application are true and complete. I understand that failure to answer these questions or untrue answers are grounds for immediate dismissal.”
Addressing the question about convictions as a juvenile, first of all, in most states, juvenile records are sealed and not available to the public. Second, in most states after a period of time juvenile records are destroyed and “must be treated as if it never occurred“.
Let me just cite the North Dakota Century Code:
27-20-51. Inspection of court files and records.
1. Except as provided in this section, all files and records of the juvenile court, whether in the office of the clerk of district court or juvenile court, of a proceeding under this chapter are closed to the public. Juvenile court files and records are open to inspection only by: ……(long list of court officials)
27-20-54. Destruction of juvenile court records. (Effective through December 31,
1. Except as otherwise required under section 25-03.3-04, all juvenile court records must be retained and disposed of pursuant to rules and policies established by the North Dakota supreme court.
2. Upon the final destruction of a file or record, the proceeding must be treated as if it never occurred.
When are juvenile court records destroyed in North Dakota? According to the North Dakota Supreme Court Administrative Rule 19:
Juvenile Delinquency (94) – 500419 Retain for 10 years after expiration of final order, or age 18, whichever is later. Dispose by shredding.
The summary of the North Dakota law on criminal offenses committed as a juvenile, is that these records are sealed to the public, and after ten years these records are destroyed, and must be treated as if it never occurred.
So why would an employer in North Dakota be asking an employee to disclose information which North Dakota law says that it should be treated “as if it never occurred”? Some answers are, that the employer is an asshole, the employer is ignorant of the law, the employer does not care about the law, the employer doesn’t care about violating the law, or, this is North Dakota.
The second question on this application which is troubling, “have you ever received disciplinary action or a complaint?” What, disciplinary action or a complaint from a parent, teacher, spouse, child, neighbor, co-worker, bystander, bartender, police, court, IRS, or employer? This employer would probably answer “Yes”.
To the reader who would respond with the statement, well you don’t have to work for this employer if you don’t like this application. The problem is, this application was for employment in a position like a nurse, engineer, firefighter, or pilot where there is education, training, certification, or a degree, and this application could bar you from employment in your occupation or field as a nurse, engineer, firefighter, etc.
My recommendation would be, that an employee not disclose personal information to an employer that could bar them from employment or cause problems, if this information has been sealed from the public, expunged, destroyed, or is private and unlikely to ever be disclosed.
In an ideal World, a more fair World, an employee would have the right to give an employer an “Employer Application” with equally absurd questions, and to conduct a bi-annual “Employer Review” where suggestions could be made for improvement, or notification could be given that the employer was not meeting expectations.