Waterloo Council Agrees to “ban the box,” but not without some amendments first

The Waterloo City Council voted 4 to 2 last(Mon) night, on third-and-final reading, to “ban the box,” that is, forbidding the city and many businesses from including an actual box on their application, asking about applicants’ criminal records.

In fact, the way the ordinance is written, it doesn’t let employers ask about an applicant’s criminal history until after making a conditional job offer, which is why the council also agreed to review the ordinance with a fine-toothed comb next Monday in a work session, with an eye toward amending some of the language.

The measure is intended to ensure people with criminal convictions get a fair chance of getting jobs.

Similar measures have been passed around the country, but Waterloo is the first city in Iowa to approve such an ordinance.

The measure applies to business with at least 15 employees and the city government.

It will be several weeks before the amended measure takes effect, after the council gives it three more readings.