New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed into law a "ban the box" bill, titled "The Opportunity to Compete Act" (the "Act").
Effective March 1, 2015, the Act will restrict a covered employer's ability
to inquire into an applicant's criminal background.
- The Act applies to employers with 15 or more employees over 20 calendar weeks who do business, employ persons, or take applications for employment within the state of New Jersey.
- The legislation prohibits employers from inquiring on an employment application into an applicant's criminal record.
- The Act prohibits employers from making any oral or written inquiry regarding an applicant's criminal record during the initial employment application process.
- The Act prohibits employers from posting job advertisements stating that the employer will not consider any applicant who has been arrested or convicted of a crime.
The "initial employment application process" begins when an applicant or the employer first makes an inquiry to the other party about a prospective employment position and concludes when an employer has conducted the first interview of the applicant, whether in person or by any other means. Employers are only permitted to make inquiries regarding the applicant's criminal record during the initial employment application process if an applicant voluntarily discloses information regarding his or her criminal record. Employers are advised to use caution, appropriately document how the information was voluntarily disclosed, and ensure that a written record is maintained.
New Jersey employers should review their
job advertisements, job applications, and hiring processes to
ensure compliance with the new law.