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“Ban-the-Box” Legislation in Waterloo, Iowa Faces Challenges

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January 15, 2020 Return to News & Events

“Ban-the-Box” Legislation in Waterloo, Iowa Faces Challenges

Iowa’s “Ban-the-Box” legislation is set to take affect on July 1, 2020, but recent challenges may delay the date.

From (Jan. 06, 20):

A state business group is asking the court to strike down a city ordinance that would prevent private employers from inquiring about criminal backgrounds on job applications.

On Jan. 2, the Iowa Association of Business and Industry filed for an injunction in Black Hawk County District Court to head off Waterloo’s “ban the box” rule, which is scheduled to begin in July. (1)

Challenges to law are common and only add to the confusion of when or whether a law will be implemented. Ban-the-Box legislation is designed to assist in eliminating potential discrimination and allow greater access for all groups, especially recently incarcerated individuals.

Adam Almeida, President and CEO of, opines: “A best practice for all hiring managers is to work with a well-qualified third-party pre-employment background screening agency, such as, in order to remain up-to-date with all laws that could potential affect their industry.”

While the city is yet to comment on the potential litigation, the claim suggests that the Ban-the-Box law violates state constitution.

From (Jan. 06, 20):

According to Iowa ABI’s petition, the group warned city officials before the vote the ordinance would violate a 2017 state law that ABI championed prohibiting cities from adopting ordinances that “exceed or conflict with the requirements of federal or state law … relating to hiring practices.” (2)

Almeida adds: “Ban-the-box laws have been implemented across the country, the most recent being the Fair Chance Act initiated at the federal level enacted as part of a funding bill. Employers need to understand that laws, such as ban-the-box legislation, can often be challenged in court and without paying strict attention may be unaware of the status of laws governing their industry. That is why it is important to work with an employment screening agency which can help in assisting with compliance to new and existing law.”

Below is part of the complaint against the city of Waterloo, as transcribed from a recent article on (Jan 06 20):

The Iowa Association of Business and Industry filed this lawsuit to stop Waterloo’s clearly unlawful ordinance that regulates when and how employers can consider an applicant’s criminal background history. The ordinance is one of the broadest criminal-history ordinances in the

country, going well beyond any regulation of hiring practices under state or federal law. It doesn’t just affect when an employer can inquire about an applicant’s criminal history; it also forbids employers from considering criminal history at all in some circumstances. (3)

Almeida concludes: “Again, when challenges, such as the ones regarding Ban-the-Box in Waterloo, Iowa, arise employers should take immediate note. At this point in time the best approach and practice for employers and human resource personnel is to work with a third-party employment screening agency, such as, to remain in compliance with new and existing law.” is a third-party employment screening company, an advocate of SHRM, a member in good standing with the PBSA (Professional Background Screening Association) and for over 17 years has maintained an A+ Rating with the BBB (Better Business Bureau) that can provide compliant solutions for all screening requirements. From pre-employment to post-hire screening, as well as volunteer, caregiver and nanny checks, provides background screening services across a broad array of industries. From the smallest organization to the largest corporation, can fulfill every background screening requirement.


(2) ibid

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