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Volume X, Number 297

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City of St. Louis, Missouri, Passes New ‘Ban the Box’ Ordinance

The City of St. Louis Board of Alderman unanimously passed “ban the box” legislation prohibiting employers in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, from basing job hiring or promotion decisions on applicants’ criminal histories. The Ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2021, for employers with at least 10 employees.

The legislation asserts that applicants with criminal histories are less likely to be considered for an available job when the information is included on an initial job application, and that revealing a criminal history on an initial job application often results in an applicant’s elimination from consideration. The intent of the new Ordinance (Ordinance 71074) is to remove potential job barriers for people with criminal histories.

Prohibitions

Ordinance 71074 prohibits employers located in the City of St. Louis with at least 10 employees from basing a hiring or promotion decision on a job applicant’s criminal history, unless the employer can demonstrate its decision is based on all available information, including consideration of the frequency, recentness, and severity of the criminal history, and that the history is reasonably related to or bear on the duties and responsibilities of the position. Further, the Ordinance prohibits an employer from asking about an applicant’s criminal history until after it has been determined an applicant is otherwise qualified for the position.

The Ordinance also prohibits employers from publishing job advertisements excluding applicants based on criminal history, as well as barring employers from including statements excluding applications based on criminal history in job application forms and other employer-generated forms used in the hiring process. Employers also are barred from seeking to obtain publicly available information concerning job applicants’ criminal history.

Penalties

Violations of the Ordinance may expose employers to significant penalties. For the first violation, an employer will receive a warning issued by the Office of the License Collector, or an order requiring that it come into compliance within 30 days. For the second violation, an employer will receive an order issued by the Office of the License Collector requiring that it come into compliance within 30 days and a civil penalty as determined by the License Collector. After three violations, the Office of the License Collector may revoke an employer’s business operating license.

Next Steps for Employers

City of St. Louis employers covered by the Ordinance should consider taking these steps to ensure they are in compliance with the Ordinance’s requirements:

  • Review employment applications to ensure they do not include any prohibited inquiries about an applicant’s criminal history.

  • Review their advertisements (paper and electronic) soliciting applications and remove any language that states applicants will not be considered for employment because of their criminal history.

  • Educate key employees in the hiring process about the Ordinance’s requirements.

  • Update forms and practices for inquiring into an applicant’s criminal record, after the initial employment application process is completed.

Employers should take steps to understand what other requirements may coincide with their compliance with this Ordinance.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume X, Number 43
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About this Author

Jessica L. Liss, Jackson Lewis, supervisor training lawyer, sexual harassment prevention attorney
Office Managing Principal

Jessica L. Liss is Office Managing Principal of the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis, P.C. Ms. Liss has been based in St. Louis her entire career and has extensive experience litigating all forms of employment and civil rights matters.

As a trial lawyer, Ms. Liss has been representing employers at the trial and appellate level in state and federal courts. She has appeared before administrative judges and numerous state and federal agencies. Ms. Liss has conducted many jury trials through verdict, and...

314-827-3950
Susan M. Corcoran, Jackson Lewis, fair credit reporting lawyer, Labor Policy Attorney
Principal

Susan M. Corcoran is a Principal in the White Plains, New York, office of Jackson Lewis, P.C. Ms. Corcoran is a seasoned employment counselor and litigator and is often thought of as the “go to” person on national workplace law issues for her clients.

She is one of the leaders of the firm’s Background Check Resource Group, and serves as a resource on fair credit reporting act issues, as well as “ban the box” strategies. She taught a graduate employment law class for many years at Manhattanville College and frequently speaks before different groups on a variety of workplace law issues. She had recently served two terms as NYS SHRM Legislative Director, successfully participating in lobbying efforts to overturn New York’s annual WTPA notice requirement.

914-872-6871
Rachel S. Kim Associate St. Louis General Employment Litigation
Associate

Rachel S. Kim is an Associate in the St. Louis, Missouri, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. Her practice focuses on representing employers in discrimination, harassment, and retaliation matters, including matters arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Missouri Human Rights Act. 

Ms. Kim also counsels employers with regard to state and federal employment laws, employee handbooks and personnel policies and...

314-827-3948
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