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St. Louis Aldermen Vote To Remove Criminal History Question From Job Applications

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen chambers on July 7, 2017.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio
The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved legislation that bans most employers in St. Louis from asking about criminal history on a job application.

Starting in 2021, employers in St. Louis won’t be able to ask about criminal history on a job application.

The Board of Aldermen on Friday sent so-called ban-the-box legislation to Mayor Lyda Krewson. A spokesman said she had not yet reviewed it.

The measure sponsored by Alderman John Collins-Muhammad, D-21st Ward, applies only to businesses with 10 or more employees. They would not be prohibited from looking at someone’s criminal history as part of the hiring process, but arrests and convictions could not be used to keep someone from even being considered for a job.

“I am excited,” Collins-Muhammad said after the final vote. “This means a lot in terms of economic mobility and giving economic chances to the people that need it the most.”

He had delayed the process multiple times in order to make changes requested by his colleagues.

“We made this board bill as perfect as we can,” he said. “We rewrote the language several times; we came up with different penalties. No legislation is perfect, but we got it as close to perfect as possible.”

Collins-Muhammad’s legislation puts the city’s Civil Rights Enforcement Agency in charge of investigating complaints that the new law isn’t being followed. The license collector, who issues business licenses, handles enforcement. A first offense brings a warning. Multiple violations mean a business could lose its license to operate in the city.

Then-Mayor Francis Slay instituted a ban-the-boxpolicy for city employment in 2014. Then-St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger did the same for the county in 2018.

Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rlippmann

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Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.