2020Ban the Box
Ban the Box

Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On January 1, 2021, a “Ban the Box” law passed by the City of St. Louis, Missouri – Ordinance 71074 – will take effect for employers in St. Louis with ten or more employees to prohibit them from basing job hiring or promotion decisions on the criminal history of job applicants or inquiring about the criminal history of job applicants.

Criminal history questions must wait until after determining applicants are otherwise qualified for a job unless employers can demonstrate their decision is based on information that considers the frequency, recentness, and severity of the criminal history and the relation to the job. Under the new Ban the Box law, employers may not:

  1. Base a decision to hire or promote on an applicant’s criminal history, “unless the employer can demonstrate that the employment-related decision is based on all information available including the frequency, recentness and severity of the criminal history and the history is reasonably related to or bears upon the duties and responsibilities of the job position;”
  2. Inquire about a job applicant’s criminal history until after the employer has determined that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the job position, and interviewed the applicant, “except that such an inquiry may be made of all job applicants who are in the final selection pool from which the position will be filled;”
  3. Publish job advertisements, including electronically, that exclude applicants on the basis of criminal history;
  4. Include statements on job applications and other hiring forms, including electronic documents, that exclude applicants on the basis of criminal history;
  5. Inquire into, or require applicants to disclose their criminal history on initial job applications and other hiring forms, including electronic documents; and
  6. “Seek to obtain publicly available information” concerning job applicants’ criminal history.

The prohibitions of the St. Louis Ban the Box law that are contained in paragraphs 3, 4, 5, and 6 shall not apply to job positions where federal or state laws and regulations, or City ordinance prohibits employers from employing individuals with certain criminal histories. The full text of the Ban the Box law is available here.

“Ban the Box” refers to the box on job applications that applicants are asked to check if they have a criminal record. As of December 2020, 36 states and more than 150 cities and counties have adopted Ban the Box laws to reduce employment barriers for ex-offenders and have them judged on their knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Ban the Box laws and second chance programs that give ex-offenders with a prior criminal record a chance to find work are spreading rapidly in the U.S., according to leading global background check provider Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) which compiled the “ESR Top Ten Background Check Trends” for 2020.

Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – which was named the #1 screening firm in 2020 by HRO Today – offers a white paper on “Ten Critical Steps for Ex-Offenders to Get Back into the Workforce,” an “ESR Ban the Box Resource Guide,” and a Ban the Box Resource Page. To learn more about ESR, visit www.esrcheck.com.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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