On April 11, 2016, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon signed an Executive Order that immediately implemented a “Ban the Box” policy for Missouri state agencies, departments, boards, and commissions. Under this Order, state employers must amend their initial employment applications to remove questions relating to an individual’s criminal history unless a criminal history would render an applicant ineligible for the position. State employers may still request information about an applicant’s criminal past and may still conduct a criminal background check as a condition of employment, but the Order requires that state agencies wait until later in the application process to procure that information. The Order does not specify exactly when in the application process employers may make these criminal history inquiries.
As Governor Nixon explained, the Ban the Box policy gives individuals with past mistakes a chance to apply for jobs, an opportunity to explain the unique aspects of their situation to a potential employer, an increased likelihood of landing a job, and a chance to provide financial stability for their families. Governor Nixon stated that “approximately 96% of individuals sentenced to prison will eventually return to our communities,” Missouri has 59,000 individuals under the supervision of the Division of Probate and Parole, and “gainful employment is an important factor in reducing recidivism rates among former offenders.”
State agencies must implement the Order and remove criminal history questions from their initial employment applications no later than July 10, 2016 (90 days after the Order was signed). Governor Nixon hopes that private employers will follow suit and implement their own Ban the Box policies. Several companies—such as WalMart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and Home Depot—have already implemented their own voluntary Ban the Box rules.