On June 9, 2018, Kansas City, Missouri’s “ban-the-box” ordinance went into effect. The ordinance is applicable to private employers with six or more employees and is being touted as Ban-the-Box-PLUS, since it not only prohibits the use of questions about criminal background on the job application form but also requires employers to have additional justifiable reasons for using an applicant or employee’s criminal background as the basis for any employment decision.
Specifically, the ordinance prohibits employers from “basing a hiring or promotional decision on an applicant’s criminal history or sentence related thereto, unless the employer can demonstrate that the employment–related decision was based on all information available including consideration of the frequency, recentness and severity of a criminal record and that the record was reasonably related to the duties and responsibilities of the position.” Section 38-104
Additionally, an employer may not request information about an applicant’s criminal history until after the employer has determined that he or she is otherwise qualified for the position and has been interviewed. Further, if the employer does ask about applicants’ criminal histories, it must make the request on all of the individuals in the final pool of candidates for the position.
The ordinance is not applicable to “positions where employers are required to exclude applicants with certain criminal convictions from employment due to local, state or federal law or regulation.” Section 38-104(b). Remedies for violation of the law include reinstatement, back pay, actual damages and civil penalties.
Kansas City joins Columbia as the second Missouri city to enact a ban-the-box law applicable to private employers. Several municipalities and the state of Missouri have instituted similar laws with respect to hiring governmental employees. Given that cities and states across the country are enacting ban-the-box laws on a virtually monthly basis, employers must remain vigilant and commit to reviewing their application forms and hiring practices on a regular basis, especially if they are hiring across multiple jurisdictions.