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Lawsuit against Waterloo’s ‘Ban the Box’ is dismissed

The City of Waterloo has issued a news release with word that the lawsuit filed against the Fair Chance Initiative has been thrown out. The statement says a Black Hawk County District Court judge ruled Friday, April 3, that the lawsuit was without merit.

The initiative, more commonly known as Ban the Box, was adopted in November of 2019 and scheduled to take effect July 1 of this year. The ordinance aims to help those with a criminal history find jobs.

But the Iowa Association of Business and Industry filed suit at the beginning of the year seeking to prevent the city from enacting the ordinance. The group had argued city council was overstepping and in violation of a 2017 state law, which discourages cities from passing local laws when it comes to hiring practices.

Under the city ordinance, employers will no longer be allowed to have a criminal history box on applications, and can not ask about criminal history during the hiring process. However, employers can still do background checks on applicants.

You can read the city's full release here:

In response to the announcement, ABI President Mike Ralston's office issued the following statement, “We are disappointed in the district judge’s ruling. Iowa Code preempts local regulation of hiring practices that exceeds state or federal law, and Waterloo’s ordinance does just that. The district court's ruling guts the preemption statute that the legislature passed just three years ago. We have already filed an appeal.” 

Allison Gibson

News Director

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