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Columbia council approves 'ban the box'

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The Columbia City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will prohibit employers from asking on applications whether a job seeker has a criminal record.

The ordinance, known as "ban the box" also prohibits businesses from conducting background checks until a conditional job offer is made.

It includes exceptions for certain positions that bar employees with certain types of criminal convictions.

Some business leaders objected to the ordinance, especially the delay in background checks. Supporters said the ban gives ex-offenders a better chance at a job, which reduces recidivism.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports the city's new ordinance is the most far-reaching of similar laws in Missouri cities because it applies to public and private employers. Similar ordinances in Kansas City and St. Louis apply only to public employees.

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