New Jersey Bans the Box: Criminal Background Checks

The New Jersey legislature passed The Opportunity to Compete Act (S-2500) to prohibit employers from performing criminal background checks and asking applicants about criminal records until after an initial interview.

The Bill now awaits signature by Governor Chris Christie.

What Ban the Box Means for New Jersey Employers

  • Job Advertisements: Employers cannot set requirements for job applicants in job ads that would screen out applicants with criminal records.
  • Job Applications: Employers won’t be able to include questions about applicants’ criminal record on job applications.
  • Initial Interviews: Employers are not allowed to “make any oral or written inquiry regarding an applicant’s criminal record during the initial employment application process,” but if job applicants voluntarily reveal information about criminal records, employers may then ask further questions about the applicants’ criminal records.

New Jersey’s Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development will enforce the law, fining any employer who violates the Act up to $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.

The Act does not reference a required posting for New Jersey employers, but the GovDocs Research Department will continue to monitor New Jersey for updates.

Ban the Box Gains Momentum in U.S.

New Jersey joins 12 other states who have passed similar Ban the Box laws. Additionally, nearly 70 cities and counties (such as New Jersey’s own Atlantic City and Newark) have passed ordinances designed to allow job applicants with a criminal record a second chance.

 

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