“The Opportunity to Complete Act” (last mentioned in the February 2013 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority) was reintroduced to the state Senate on February 28, 2014. The bill still prohibits the use of criminal background checks until after an employer issues a conditional offer, and the process of revoking a conditional offer requires several steps, including completion of new paperwork introduced by the bill. However, the newest incarnation of the bill includes new pro-employer provisions. First, employers may now conduct a limited inquiry into an applicant’s criminal history if the applicant voluntarily discloses such information. Second, the new version of the bill also removes some of the confidentiality requirements employers had to follow regarding criminal background checks, and clarifies a safe harbor provision, protecting compliant employers from negligent hiring claims. The new bill, revised to encourage more bipartisan support, will draw considerable debate in the coming months. As a reminder, Newark and Atlantic City employers already are under local ban-the-box ordinances.
Note: This article was published in the March 2014 issue of the New Jersey eAuthority.