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Ban the Box Debated in St. Louis, MO

The ban the box movement has been gaining steam, with many jurisdictions passing laws in recent years. We have previously touched on the ban the box laws in Colorado and Columbia, South Carolina, and now, St. Louis, Missouri, looks poised to join the growing movement.

St. Louis has previous experience with the ban the box bandwagon. A 2013 city policy change no longer automatically disqualified applicants who had felony convictions from city employment. Then in 2014, the City of St. Louis no longer required applicants seeking city employment to check a box on an employment application if they had a felony conviction. Even the State of Missouri banned the box in 2016 for applicants seeking certain state government positions.

While the City of St. Louis may have some experience with ban the box, there is a relevant note for employers: ban the box in the city (and state) currently only applies to certain government positions. Private employers are not impacted by existing ban the box laws.

But that may be coming to an end.

Recently, St. Louis Alderman John Collins-Muhammad proposed expanding the city’s ban the box law to cover all employers. The Alderman’s proposal wouldn’t “prohibit hiring managers from asking about criminal history in interviews or doing a background check.” Instead, the proposal, known as Board Bill 120, would prohibit all employers in the City of St. Louis from:

    • Basing a hiring or promotional decision on a job applicant’s criminal history, unless the employer can demonstrate its relevance to that decision.
    • Inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal history until after it has been determined that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the job and has been interviewed; however, such an inquiry may be made of all job applicants who are in the final selection pool from which the job will be filled.
  • However, this wouldn’t apply to jobs which an employer is required by law to exclude an applicant based on their criminal history.

    This proposed bill has not yet become law. Verified Credentials will continue to monitor and attempt to provide updates on the proposed legislation as they become available. Of course, with the rapidly changing ban the box landscape, it’s always beneficial to speak with a trusted legal advisor before conducting criminal history checks to make sure that you’re complying with all applicable laws.

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