On March 1, 2015, New Jersey’s Opportunity to Compete Act goes into effect. The law, dubbed “Ban the Box” legislation, prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from including a question on an employment application asking about the applicant’s criminal background. It also prohibits employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record during the “initial employment application process.”
The “initial employment application process” is defined as the time period from when the applicant first inquires about an employment position, through his/her first interview with the employer. Thus, only upon completion of the applicant’s first interview would the employer be permitted to inquire about the applicant’s criminal history or conduct a criminal background check. The law also prohibits employers from posting job advertisements stating that they do not consider anyone with a criminal background. There are exceptions for certain positions, where a criminal background check is required by law or where the position is part of a program designed to employ people with criminal backgrounds.
The law is intended to create a hiring process that is more favorable to individuals who have a criminal history by providing them an opportunity to re-integrate into the workforce. The law imposes civil penalties for violations of its provisions.
For more information on the new law and how it applies to your business, please contact Connell Foley’s labor and employment lawattorneys.