Litigation Update: Waterloo, Iowa Ban the Box Ordinance

In previous articles, we have discussed both the Ban the Box ordinance passed by the City of Waterloo, Iowa and the lawsuit relating to the ordinance filed against the city by the Iowa Association of Business and Industry (IABI)). There have been new developments in the IABI’s legal challenge to the city’s Ban the Box ordinance.

In a recent Black Hawk County, Iowa, District Court decision (available here), Senior Judge Bauercamper ruled against the IABI in its lawsuit.  granted the City of Waterloo’s motion for summary judgment, agreeing with the city that there are no facts to support the case against brought by the IABI.

According to the Court’s decision, the IABI claimed that Iowa state law limiting the powers of cities “specifically preempt[s] the authority of the City of Waterloo to adopt any regulations regarding the information about a prospective employee’s criminal history that the employer can request, collect, and use in making a decision whether to hire a job applicant” and that, therefore, the City of Waterloo’s ordinance is invalid.  The court noted that the City of Waterloo disagreed with the IABI, claiming that Iowa’s Civil Rights Act gave it the authority to enact the ordinance.

The court sided with the City of Waterloo, concluding that the Ban the Box ordinance is permissible under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. It stated, “The ordinance is consistent with the authority given to cities by … [the Iowa Civil Rights Act] to provide ‘broader or different categories of unfair or discriminatory practices.’”  The court noted that, “Criminal history considerations have been shown to have a disparate impact on minority groups, especially African Americans, as disclosed by the studies presented to the Waterloo City Counsel when …  [the Ban the Box ordinance] was proposed.  These findings support the conclusion that the ordinance does not conflict with state employment law as expressed in the Iowa Civil Rights Act.”

After the ruling, the IABI stated that, “A district court judge… ruled for the City of Waterloo on its local criminal history ordinance that violates the state’s preemption statute.  IABI was profoundly disappointed in the ruling and has already filed our intent to appeal.”  To read the press release from the IABI, click here.

The litigation is currently ongoing.  According to Iowa Courts online records, an appeal has been filed with the Iowa Court of Appeals, assigned Appellate Court Docket Number 20-0575.

The Ban the Box ordinance is scheduled to become effective on July 1, 2020.

Verified Credentials will continue to monitor the ongoing litigation surrounding the City of Waterloo, Iowa Ban the Box ordinance and will provide updates as they become available.

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