Good news for St. Louis job seekers with a criminal record

On Behalf of | May 24, 2021 | Criminal Law |

Looking for a job in St. Louis can be difficult. This is especially true for anyone with a criminal record. Until recently, employers had the right to ask about a job seeker’s criminal record on an application or during an initial interview. 

A new St. Louis city ordinance has put an end to these practices, making it easier for people to apply to jobs:

“Effective January 1, 2021, the ‘Ban the Box’ ordinance 71074 prohibits employers in the City of St. Louis from basing job hiring or promotion decisions on applicants’ criminal history, and inquiring about applicants’ criminal history until after it has been determined an applicant is otherwise qualified for the position.”

The term “ban the box” comes from the job application requirement to “check the box” if you have a criminal record.

What the “ban the box” ordinance means for job applicants

Thanks to this ordinance, there is a more equal playing field for job applicants in St. Louis. In the past, a potential employer could base their hiring decision on your past mistakes or even false charges. Now, your education, experience and people skills will be evaluated first. 

Only after determining if you are a good fit for the job can employers inquire about your criminal background. And after employers have narrowed down their post-interview pool of applicants, they must run background checks for each one.

What has not changed about the interview process

This ordinance does not prohibit an employer from ever conducting background checks on potential employees. Rather, under many circumstances, an employer is required to evaluate you and your qualifications before checking into your criminal history.

Keep in mind that the ordinance only applies to employers with “less than ten employees.” That means a smaller employer may ask about your criminal record on an application or during the initial interview.

Also, this ordinance does not eliminate the need for any pre-employment background checks that are required under city, state or federal regulations.

What should I do if an employer violates the St. Louis ordinance 71074?

Any job seeker or employee who thinks an employer has violated the ordinance should contact The City of St. Louis Civil Rights Enforcement Agency. Before you call the agency, it will be helpful to gather the following information:

  • The name and contact information of the employer
  • The names of anyone you talked to during the application or interview process
  • The date you applied or were interviewed
  • A copy or photo of the job posting, form or other documentation that violated the “ban the box” ordinance

The Civil Rights Enforcement Agency will look into all reports of ordinance 71074 violations. Employers who do not comply may face penalties.