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Waterloo passes "ban the box" ordinance on third reading

The Waterloo City Council passed the second reading of a "ban the box" ordinance on...
The Waterloo City Council passed the second reading of a "ban the box" ordinance on Sept. 3, 2019. (Mary Green/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Oct. 7, 2019 at 7:56 PM CDT
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Waterloo's city council has passed an ordinance that will prevent employers from asking about an applicant's criminal history before a conditional job offer is made.

The ordinance, commonly referred to as "ban the box" in reference to a checkbox on job applications asking about prior felony convictions, passed the third and final reading at council by a vote of 4 to 2.

It would prohibit businesses from asking job applicants about their criminal records until they've made a conditional offer of employment. Exceptions would be made for schools and state and federal government jobs. Private businesses would be required to comply, making Waterloo potentially the first city in Iowa to go as far as to include private businesses in such a rule.

Last month, the city council voted to postpone the final vote for another 4 weeks. Members hoped to get more opinions on whether or not to keep the proposed ordinance or amend it.

Proponents said the ordinance would give people with criminal histories a second chance. Detractors said the extra human resources headaches could keep businesses away from the city.