Q: Ban the Box has been around for several years now, and I know at least one city in Iowa implemented local regulations about background checks. What is the status in Iowa?
A: When we talk about Ban the Box, what we are really talking about is prohibiting pre-employment or application inquiries about a person’s criminal history. While Waterloo had originally enacted a relatively broad Ban the Box requirement, the bulk of this was struck down by the Iowa Supreme Court.
However, the court specifically focused on the timing of inquiring about criminal history stating that Waterloo could require that criminal history information would only be obtained after a conditional job offer had been made. This decision was in part based on existing Iowa statutes that prohibit localities from enacting certain rules which are stricter than state law. Iowa has no comprehensive Ban the Box law.
Also of note, during recent critical staffing shortages, many employers are expanding their ideas of what acceptable prior background checks encompass. This is in line with many other states as well as changes to EEOC guidance.