Des Moines Passes ‘Ban The Box’ Law Banning Criminal Investigations of Job Applications – Employee Rights/Labour Relations

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On November 15, 2021, the city of Des Moines, Iowa passed a “no box” law that will limit employer investigations and criminal background checks on an applicant until a conditional job offer is made. 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 checks in an application, and (2) conduct criminal background checks or criminal background checks before a conditional job offer.

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.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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