About the Ban the Box Ordinance

Effective January 1, 2021, the "Ban the Box" ordinance 71074 prohibits employers in the City of St. Louis from basing job hiring or promotion decisions on applicants' criminal history, and inquiring about applicants' criminal history until after it has been determined an applicant is otherwise qualified for the position


Ordinance Number 71074 is intended to prevent hiring or job promotion decisions based on an applicant’s criminal history.

Previous involvement with the criminal justice system often creates a significant barrier to employment in that applicants with criminal histories are less likely to be considered for an available job when that information is included on an initial job application.

Support for fair-chance policies at federal, state and local levels has gained momentum in recent years. Subsequently, the City of St. Louis has evaluated and decided to address the employment discrimination that often occurs as a result of requiring people with a criminal history to disclose that information during the initial phases of the hiring process. 

Providing employment opportunities for people with criminal histories makes our communities safer because when people with criminal histories are gainfully employed, they are significantly less likely to re-offend; and society expects adults who can work to seek and maintain employment, so it is vital that residents of the City of St. Louis with criminal histories have a chance to rejoin the workforce and become fully contributing members of their communities.

On January 1, 2021, a “Ban the Box” ordinance went into effect to restrict employers from asking job applicants about their criminal history on their initial applications.

Frequently Asked Questions for Employers

What is “Ban the Box”?

The policy of removing questions about criminal history from job applications eases hiring barriers and creates a fair chance to compete for jobs. Known as “ban the box,” this change allows employers to judge applicants on their qualifications first, without the stigma of a criminal record.

Why was this law passed?

The intent of this ordinance is to increase fairness in hiring for individuals with criminal histories and to allow the opportunity to first compete and be considered for a job position based on their abilities and qualifications, without the inclusion of information regarding their criminal record.  

What does the law do?

The ordinance prohibits employers in the City of St. Louis with ten or more employees from:

  • basing job hiring and promotion decisions on an applicant’s criminal history unless the employer can demonstrate its relevance to the job-related decision;
  • inquiring into a job applicants’ criminal history prior to determining the applicant is otherwise qualified for the job position and interviewed;
  • publishing job advertisements or including statements on job applications and other hiring forms (hardcopy or electronic) that exclude applicants on the basis of criminal history;
  • inquiring into, or requiring applicants to make disclosures regarding their criminal history on initial job application forms;
  • seeking to obtain publicly available information concerning job applicants’ criminal history.

How is the law enforced?

Any alleged violation of the Ordinance will be referred to and investigated by the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency for the City of St. Louis. Violations can then be recommended to the Office of the License Collector for employer compliance.

What are the penalties employers may face for violating this law?

If an employer is found in violation, penalties may consist of warnings, orders of compliance and civil penalties for initial violations with potential revocation of your business operating license for subsequent violations. Anyone aggrieved by a violation of the Ordinance may submit a complaint to the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency, who will investigate the claim.

When can an employer ask about criminal history?

Employers may inquire about criminal history only after determining that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position, and only after the applicant has been interviewed for the position, and criminal history inquiry must also be made of all applicants in the final selection pool from which the job would be filled.  

What steps should employers take to comply with the law?

Employers in the City of St. Louis should be careful to update applications and other hiring documents (whether in hardcopy or electronic), as well as advertisements, to comply with the new ordinance. Another key step is to educate all employees involved in the hiring process about the Ordinance’s requirements.

Are there any exceptions?

Certain provisions of the ordinance do not apply to job positions where federal or state law and regulations, or City ordinance prohibits employers from employing individuals with certain criminal histories. The ordinance does not cover employers with less than ten employees.

Frequently Asked Questions for Job Applicants

Can an employer ask me about my criminal record on a job application or at an interview?

Applicants cannot be asked or required to disclose criminal history on job application forms (paper or electronic) and other employer generated forms used in the initial phase of the hiring process.

Employers cannot ask about or investigate an applicant’s criminal history until after determining that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the job position, and only after the the applicant is interviewed. If the employer then chooses to inquire into criminal histories, it must do so for all applicants who are in the final selection pool from which the position will be filled.

Can an employer refuse to hire me because of my record?

An employer cannot base a hiring or promotional decision on a job applicant’s criminal history or sentence, unless

  1. the history is reasonably related to or bears upon the duties and responsibilities of the job position, and
  2. the employer can demonstrate that the decision is based on all available information including frequency, recentness, and severity of the criminal history.

What should I do if I think an employer has violated the law?

Individuals aggrieved by a violation of the ordinance may submit complaints to the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency (CREA) for investigation. CREA will then recommend complaints to have been determined with merit to the Office of the License Collector for employer compliance.


The Civil Rights Enforcement Agency (CREA) investigates and refers complaints of ordinance violation and the Office of the License Collector is responsible for enforcement of the ordinance’s prohibitions. Each agency’s contact information is listed below.

Ordinance No. 71074, in its entirety, is available for review.

Civil Rights Enforcement Agency


(314) 622-3301

1114 Market Street, Suite 626
St. Louis, MO 63101

Monday - Friday, 8:30 AM - 4 PM If you call us and we do not answer, please leave a message. We will follow up within 24 hours.

Contact the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency

Office of the License Collector


(314) 622-4528

1200 Market Street, City Hall Room 102-104
St. Louis, MO 63103

Monday - Friday 8 AM - 5 PM

Contact the Office of the License Collector

This content is also available in PDF format:

Ban the Box Ordinance No. 71074 Flyer (PDF)

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