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The City of Waterloo, Iowa

Back to Ban the Box

The Basics

Location: City of Waterloo, IA
Legislation: 5-3-15: Unfair Use of Criminal Record in Hiring Decisions
Type: Ban the Box
Effective: July 1, 2020

The City of Waterloo, Iowa will be enacting their “Ban the Box” on July 1, 2020.  They have amended the City’s Code of Ordinances by adding a new Title 5, Police Regulations, Chapter 3, Human Rights, Section 15, Unfair Use of Criminal Record in Hiring Decisions.

Key Takeaways

  • Applies to employers with 15 or more employees
  • May not ask about criminal history prior to a conditional offer
  • Adverse action can only be taken if the record has a direct and substantial ability on the fitness or ability to perform the duties or responsibilities of the position.

Which employers are affected?

This law applies to any person, partnership, company, corporation, labor organization or association which regularly employs fifteen (15) or more persons within the City of Waterloo, including the City of Waterloo.

What is prohibited?

In connection with the employment of any person, it shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an employer to engage in any of the following activity:

  • To make any inquiry regarding, or to require any person to disclose or reveal, any convictions, arrests, or pending criminal charges during the application process, including but not limited to any interview.  If the applicant voluntarily discloses any information regarding his or her criminal record at the interview, the employer may discuss the criminal record disclosed by the applicant;
  • To make an adverse hiring decision based solely on the applicant’s record of arrests or pending criminal charges;
  • To make an adverse hiring decision based on any criminal records which have been lawfully erased or expunged, which are the subject of an executive pardon, or which were otherwise legally nullified; and
  • To make an adverse hiring decision based on an applicant’s criminal record without a legitimate business reason.

Can employers still consider and take adverse action based on an applicant’s criminal history?

A legitimate business reason under the law includes, but is not limited to:

  • Situations where the nature of the criminal conduct has a direct and substantial bearing on the fitness or ability to perform the duties or responsibilities of the intended employment, taking into consideration the following factors:
    • the nature of the employment,
    • the place and manner in which the employment will be performed,
    • the nature and seriousness of the offense or conduct,
    • whether the employment presents an opportunity for the commission of a similar offense or conduct,
    • the length of time between the conviction or arrest and the application for employment (not including time on probation or parole or the time during which fines or other financial penalties or remedies may be outstanding),
    • the number and types of convictions or pending charges, and
    • any verifiable information provided by the applicant that is related to the applicant’s rehabilitation or good conduct.
  • Situations where the granting of employment would involve unreasonable risk of substantial harm to property or to safety of individuals or the public, or to business reputation or business assets, taking into consideration the factors listed in the above section a.
  • Positions working with children, developmentally disabled persons and vulnerable adults where the applicant has a conviction record of a crime against children or disabled or vulnerable adults, including but not limited to crimes of rape, sexual abuse, incest, prostitution, pimping, pandering, assault, domestic violence, kidnapping, financial exploitation, neglect, abandonment, and child endangerment.
  • Situations where an employer must comply with any federal or state law or regulation pertaining to background checks and the criminal conduct is relevant to the applicant’s fitness for the job.

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, please review and discuss with your legal counsel to determine if you meet one of the exceptions provided in the Ordinance.


We recommend you review and discuss with your legal counsel your organization’s policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the changing laws and regulations.  For additional details please refer to The City of Waterloo Code of Ordinances, 5-3-15: Unfair Use of Criminal Record in Hiring Decisions

Contact Accurate Background

For more information regarding recent legislative changes in other states and jurisdictions, visit our Legislative Updates page.

*Please note: Accurate prepared these materials for informational purposes only. These materials are not intended to be comprehensive, and are not a substitute for, and should not be construed as, legal advice. Accurate does not warrant any statements in these materials. Employers should direct questions involving their organization’s compliance with or interpretation or application of laws or regulations and any additional legal requirements that may apply, to their own legal counsel.