Employment, Benefits & Labor
On August 11, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law the Opportunity to Compete Act, New Jersey’s version of “ban the box” legislation, making New Jersey the fifth state to prohibit private employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history in the initial employment application process. A number of municipalities, including Philadelphia, have also adopted similar legislation.
The New Jersey law prohibits public and private employers with 15 or more employees from posting job advertisements indicating that they will not consider individuals convicted of a crime. The law also prohibits employers from inquiring about a candidate’s criminal history during the application process, such as by using a yes-or-no “checkbox” on an initial job application, or at any other time before or during the candidate’s initial interview. The law does not provide a private right of action, but employers will face stiff civil penalties for recurring violations, including a fine of up to $10,000 per violation. Accordingly, employers in New Jersey should alert individuals involved in the hiring process, as well as consider revising their employment applications to comply with this new law.