Ban the Box Updates

Reference Links & Historical Updates

Over the last two decades, a number of states and localities have passed ban the box laws, which generally prohibit employers from asking criminal history questions to job applicants or conducting a background check until later in the hiring process. These laws are geared toward preventing discrimination against applicants with criminal histories. Maryland, St. Louis, and Waterloo are the most recent jurisdictions to have passed ban the box laws that apply to private employers.


As of February 29, 2020, prior to conducting the first in-person interview, employers are prohibited from asking a candidate to disclose a criminal record or that a criminal accusation has been brought against them. Read more here.

St. Louis, Missouri

Come January 1, 2021, employers will be prohibited from asking a candidate to disclose their criminal history on the initial job application or any other forms used in the initial phase of the hiring process. Employers will need to interview the candidate and determine that they are otherwise qualified for the position prior to considering criminal history. Read more here.

Waterloo, Iowa

Effective July 1, 2020, employers may not inquire about a candidate's criminal records prior to issuing a conditional offer of employment unless criminal history is provided voluntarily by the candidate prior to an offer. Employers are restricted from making an employment decision based on arrests, pending charges, and convictions that have been erased, expunged, pardoned, or nullified. Employers may only rescind an offer based on a candidate's criminal record if they have a legitimate business reason to do so.

Please note: There is currently a lawsuit against the City of Waterloo alleging that this ordinance violates state law. While preparing for the law to take effect, stay on the lookout for updates. Read more here.

Ban the Box Facts

  • Thirty-five states, the District of Columbia, and more than 150 cities and counties have passed ban the box or fair chance policies.
  • Fourteen states have passed laws that apply to both public and private employers: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
  • The National Employment Law Project (NELP) issued an updated Ban the Box Guide in July 2019 which can be found here. While this publication includes a detailed list of states, counties, and cities with ban the box and fair chance laws, it does not include the most recent laws as it as not been updated since July 2019. Please keep an eye out for updates as this publication is usually updated frequently.