When Does The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act Apply to Private Employers?
Private employers in Minnesota need to be familiar with personnel record statutes and employee privacy rights. The Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, a wholly separate and much more demanding set of employee privacy laws that apply to public employers and public employees, is irrelevant to private employers – for the most part.
An exception is for corporations or non-profit organizations under contract with a government entity when following the Data Practices Act is required by the contract. See Minn. Stat. § 13.05, Subd. 11; see also Minn. Stat. § 13.02, Subd. 11. By virtue of contracting with the governmental entity (state, county, or a municipality), a private employer may need to respond to certain employee or public personnel data requests based upon the classifications and processes provided in the Data Practices Act. Typically, the Data Practices Act governs data on individuals (including personnel data) made available to the private employer through the government contract. Determining whether, how, and to what extent the Data Practices Act may apply to personnel data related to a government contract is a process of careful contract drafting and legal analysis.
Takeaway: A private employer with a government contract needs to keep in mind possible state Data Practice implications in responding to third party or employee requests for certain contract-related personnel data. This is an important point in contract drafting, and legal review should be involved to determine whether this unique requirement of the Minnesota Data Practices Act may apply to a private employer.