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Ban-the-Box: News, Highlights, and Updates

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November 12, 2019 Return to News & Events

Ban-the-Box: News, Highlights, and Updates

Ban-the-Box legislation continues to expand across the country, most recently in Columbia, South Carolina and Waterloo, Iowa; and is under consideration in other municipalities, including a potential citywide ban in St. Louis. “Ban the box” is an attempt to create a fair playing field in employment by removing or “Banning” the question box asking about Criminal History,” states Adam Almeida, President and CEO of

Ban-the-box started in 1998 in Hawaii and started slowly across the country but has, in recent years, gained momentum.

From JS Supra’s website (Oct 22, 19):

Over the last several years, the “ban the box” movement has gained an impressive amount of momentum and support from lawmakers and activists across the nation. With an aim to provide job applicants a chance to obtain employment without the stigma of a conviction or arrest, “ban the box” laws require employers to consider an applicant’s qualifications before inquiring into or considering their criminal background record. While employers may still consider an applicant’s criminal record, they generally must wait until after the applicant’s initial interview or until they extend a conditional job offer, depending on the laws of the particular jurisdiction. (1)

There are two new additions to the list and, potentially a third.

South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina recently passed and enacted a ban-the-box law that will affect all governmental agencies, but not private employers.

From (Nov. 01, 19):

The ordinance applies to the City of Columbia, government contractors, any person regularly employing five or more persons, any person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly, or any person undertaking for compensation to procure employees or opportunities for employment. Employment means any occupation, vocation, job, or work for pay, including temporary or seasonal work, contracted work and work through the services of a temporary or other employment agency, or any form of vocational or educational training with or without pay. (2)

Almeida adds: “Changes that affect the public section could eventually make it over to the public sector.”


Waterloo became the first city in Iowa to have ban-the-box legislation and just passed a second round of amendments.

From (Oct. 28, 19)

The second reading of ‘Ban the Box’ amendments passed through council tonight, the amendments were proposed by council after two work sessions.

Some of the main amendments put in place a violation enforcement policy and prevention of private action after an employer is found guilty of violating Fair Chance Initiative.

The council members against the initiative took a stiff stand against the passing of the amendments. (3)

Almeida adds: “Additional amendments to a law, especially Ban-the-Box laws add to the complexity, and further highlight the need for employers to work with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency such as”

St Louis

A concerted effort to add St. Louis to the rolls of Ban-the-Box legislations is well underway.

From (Nov. 04, 19):

“The proposed bill would prohibit employers in the City from basing job hiring and promotion decisions on an applicant’s criminal history unless the employer can demonstrate its relevance to the job-related decision, and inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after it has been determined the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position, unless the applicant is part of a final pool of applicants for the job position and all of the applicants are asked. The forgoing would not apply where the employer is required by law or regulation to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions.” (4)

In the end a best practice remains to work with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency in order to remain compliant with law, especially Ban-the-Box legislation. is a third-party background screening company with highly trained operators well versed in the needs and requirements of companies and organizations large and small utilizing public records, such as criminal background records, as part of a hiring process. Assisting companies in maintaining full compliance under the law is a central tenet of all client relationships with



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