St. Louis City’s “Ban the Box” Ordinance Goes Into Effect January 1, 2021

Jan 6, 2021

by John Reynolds

This is a reminder for our St. Louis City private employers that St. Louis City Ordinance 71074, which prohibits St. Louis City employers from basing job hiring or promotion decisions on applicant’s criminal histories, recently went into effect on January 1, 2021.  Similar ordinances are already in place in Columbia and Kansas City, Missouri.

In order to help employers ensure compliance, below is a summary of key components of the Ordinance:

Employers Subject to Ordinance

The ordinance only applies to employers with ten or more employees.

Prohibited Acts

The language of the ordinance prohibits the following actions by employers:

  1. Base a hiring or promotional decision on a job applicant’s criminal history or sentence related thereto, unless the employer can demonstrate that the employment-related 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; and
  2. Inquire about a job applicant’s criminal history until after it has been determined that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the job position, and only after the applicant has been interviewed for position except that such an inquiry may be made of all job applicants who are in the final selection pool from which the position will be filled.
  3. Publish job advertisements excluding applicants on the basis of criminal history, regardless of whether such advertisements are in hardcopy or electronic format; and
  4. Include statements excluding applicants on the basis of criminal history in job application forms and other employer generated forms used in the hiring process, regardless of the whether such forms are hardcopy or electronic format.
  5. Inquire into, or require applicants to make disclosures regarding their criminal history on initial job application forms and other employer generated forms used in the initial phase of the hiring process, whether such forms are in hardcopy or electronic format.
  6. Seek to obtain publicly available information concerning job applicants”™ criminal history.


The restrictions in paragraphs 3, 4, 5, and 6 do not apply to job positions where federal or state laws and regulations, or St. Louis City ordinance, prohibit employers from employing individuals with certain criminal histories.


The ordinance provides that aggrieved individuals may submit complaints to the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency (CREA), who shall investigate the complaints and make referrals to the Office of License Collector.

Penalties under the ordinance range from a warning for first-time violators to fines and potential business operating license revocation for repeat offenders.

Key Steps for Compliance

Affected employers should ensure their job listings comply with the ordinance, their human resources personnel are properly trained, and their written procedures regarding hiring and background screening have been revised. The CREA has published a list of FAQs regarding the Ordinance.

Please contact a Tueth Keeney attorney if you have any questions about St. Louis City Ordinance.

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Labor and Employment – Tueth, Keeney, Cooper, Mohan & Jackstadt, P.C. has successfully represented a number of businesses, large and small, throughout the Midwest in labor and employment matters. Our broad range of experience includes employment discrimination litigation, wage-hour investigations, affirmative action revision plans development, INS audits, and a variety of traditional labor matters.

John M. Reynolds is an experienced and trusted trial lawyer, whose practice focuses on complex, technical litigation. He has served as trial counsel in some of the largest commercial cases tried to verdict in the St. Louis area, involving Fortune 500 companies and seven-figure disputes. John’s practice focuses on several areas: Construction, Mortgage Fraud, Business Disputes, Education, Labor & Employment, and Employer Compliance.