St. Louis Enacts Ban-the-Box Ordinance Applicable to Private Employers

By Hal Wellford and Joe Wientge on January 29, 2020

The City of St. Louis, Missouri enacted a ban-the-box ordinance prohibiting employers within the city from basing promotions or hiring decisions on an individual's criminal history or a related sentence.1 The ordinance will take effect January 1, 2021. In the meantime, the Office of the License Collector (OLC) in the City of St. Louis is instructed to publicize that compliance with the ordinance will be a requirement for local businesses to obtain a business license.

Ban-the-Box Ordinance

The ordinance prohibits employers located within the City of St. Louis with 10 or more employees from asking about criminal history on applications and hiring forms. Employers are also barred from posting job advertisements that exclude applicants with a criminal history and from using exclusionary language in applications or other hiring forms. Employers are further prohibited from asking about or investigating an applicant's criminal background until after the applicant has been interviewed and deemed qualified for the position. At that point, an employer that chooses to inquire into criminal history information must ask all applicants in the "final selection pool from which the position will be filled" about any past criminal history. Employers may not attempt to circumvent these restrictions by seeking publicly available information about an individual's criminal history.

Employers may base hiring or promotion decisions on lawfully-obtained criminal history information when they can show that the "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."

In addition, employers that are hiring for certain positions are not bound by the ordinance's restrictions related to exclusionary language or criminal history inquiries in job advertisements, applications, or other hiring forms. Specifically, those prohibitions do not apply to positions where federal, state, or City of St. Louis laws or regulations would preclude employers from hiring individuals with certain criminal histories. Employers also may seek publicly available information about candidates for such positions.

Enforcement and Penalties

Aggrieved individuals may submit complaints to the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency (Agency), which will be responsible for investigating alleged violations. If the Agency finds merit to a complaint, it shall refer the matter to the OLC to enforce the ordinance, including potential imposition of penalties.

For a first violation, the OLC will issue a warning, or an order requiring that the employer become compliant within 30 days. For a second violation, employers would receive an order for compliance within 30 days, as well as a civil penalty as determined by the OLC. The civil penalty should not exceed the maximum allowed by St. Louis codes and ordinances.2 For a third violation, employers could be subject to possible revocation of their business license in the city.

The ordinance obligates the OLC and the Agency to coordinate with the Chair of the Committee on Legislation to create rules for the ordinance's penalty procedures, which they must present to the Legislation Committee of the Board of Alderman.

Other Local Ban-the-Box Laws in Missouri

The St. Louis ordinance seeks to build upon an executive order signed by former Mayor Francis Slay in 2014 that banned the City of St. Louis offices from requiring all job applicants to disclose felony convictions, unless the position legally required criminal background checks. The St. Louis County Executive announced a similar executive order for county government applicants in 2018.

While Missouri does not have a state ban-the-box law, Kansas City and Columbia, Missouri both have local ordinances. The Kansas City measure applies to employers with six or more employees and is generally similar to the St. Louis ordinance. Employers that violate the Kansas City ordinance may be subject to a 30-day revocation of their business license.

In Columbia, Missouri, the ordinance is less strict, in that employers are "encouraged" not to ban job seekers automatically based on a criminal record and are allowed to notify applicants of any specific offenses would disqualify them for particular jobs. Employers in Columbia are prohibited from seeking or inquiring into an applicant's arrests, charges, or convictions in the past, however, both on application materials and at any time before the employer has extended a conditional job offer.

Next Steps

As ban-the-box measures continue to spread across the country, affected employers should be aware of all relevant requirements. Employers in the City of St. Louis should be careful to train hiring staff and update applications and other hiring documents (whether in hardcopy or electronic) as well as advertisements, to comply with the new ordinance.

This article was originally published on Littler Mendelson's website. Click here to read the original article.

© 2020 Littler Mendelson. All Rights Reserved. LITTLER MENDELSON®, ASAP®, INSIGHT® and LITTLER REPORT® are registered trademarks of Littler Mendelson, P.C.

Posted: Feburary 4, 2020

1Notably, the ordinance does not define what type of criminal history information will be off-limits.

2The ordinance does not specify which penalty provisions apply for violations. Based on a review of the St. Louis code and ordinances, the maximum penalty amount appears to be $500. See, e.g., St. Louis, Mo., Code § 1.12.010 (imposing a general penalty for code violations ranging from $1 to $500, unless otherwise specified); id. § 3.44.150 (imposing a penalty ranging from $250 to $500 for commission of prohibited discriminatory practices in employment or housing).

All Rights Reserved © 2020 Business Information Group, Inc.
This document and/or presentation is provided as a service to our customers. Its contents are designed solely for informational purposes, and should not be inferred or understood as legal advice or binding case law, nor shared with any third parties. Persons in need of legal assistance should seek the advice of competent legal counsel. Although care has been taken in preparation of these materials, we cannot guarantee the accuracy, currency or completeness of the information contained within it. Anyone using this information does so at his or her own risk.

Thank you for your interest in Business Information Group. We have received your message and will contact you in one business day or less.
You have exceeded the number of attempts to submit this form. As a result, your IP address has been temporarily blocked.

Get In Touch

Send a Message *fields required

What are your Interests?optional

Contact Information

Even our RFP PROCESS is state-of-the-art.

Take a look

What our clients are saying

We cannot express enough how much we have enjoyed working with BIG! It has really benefitted our processing and ease of doing business!

Licensing and Registration Manager
Investment and Insurance Company

I enjoy collaborating with BIG, and know that if I have to reach out with a question/concern, a positive attitude with a willingness to find resolve is on the other side of an email or a phone call.

Human Resources Administrator
Global Financial Services Firm

You have been the most professional and most helpful business partner that I have ever been associated with — always there to assist us and with rapid turnaround times.

Principal Consultant
Major Professional Services Network

I am confident whenever we add a product with your company that I will have a good experience.

Division Manager
Insurance and Financial Services Agency

We have received superior service and we know this is what you and your team strive for. We are grateful for the dedication, level of professionalism and effort shown.

Large Insurance Agency

You are leaving

Ok, Continue Cancel