Des Moines bans criminal investigation ahead of conditional job offers

On Nov. 15, 2021, the city of Des Moines, Iowa passed a “ban the box” law that will limit employer inquiries and criminal background checks on an applicant until after a conditional job offer. Although the law has been passed and has already entered into force, it has received little media attention despite its implications for employers.

The Des Moines City Council unanimously passed arrangement amending its municipal code to make it “unlawful and discriminatory” for employers to: (1) include criminal background inquiries in an application, and (2) investigate criminal backgrounds or conduct criminal background checks before an offer of employment conditional employment.

By law, employers cannot:

  • Include a criminal record investigation on a job application;

  • Investigate or compel a person to disclose any pending convictions, arrests or criminal charges during the application process, including during an interview.

The law defines the “application process” as beginning when the applicant inquires about the job sought and ends when the employer makes a conditional job offer. However, the law allows an employer to discuss a candidate’s criminal record if it is voluntarily disclosed by the candidate during an interview.

Additionally, employers are required to comply with all federal and state requirements regarding (1) background check clearances, (2) pre-adverse and adverse action process, and (3) use of criminal record information.

A growing number of states and cities have passed no-box laws in recent years aimed at encouraging employers to assess job applicants on the basis of their qualifications and not a criminal record before turning down an offer of employment. ‘use.

The Des Moines Act comes after the Iowa Supreme Court in June 2021 upheld a provision of an ordinance from the city of Waterloo, Iowa, barring employers from asking about criminal records about job applications, finding that the provision was not in conflict with state law.

Key points to remember

Private employers in Des Moines may want to review their application and hiring processes to ensure that they do not engage in criminal background investigations or criminal background checks before receiving a conditional job offer.

© 2022, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 166

About Jessica J. Bass

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