New Jersey Becomes Latest State to “Ban the Box”

by Cozen O'Connor

On August 11, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law the Opportunity to Compete Act, New Jersey’s version of “ban the box.” When the law takes effect on March 1, 2015, companies who employ 15 or more employees will be prohibited from inquiring orally or on a job application about a job applicant’s criminal history until after the employer conducts a first interview. The Act will also prohibit employers from posting job advertisements that exclude applicants with criminal histories from consideration. Employers will be permitted to inquire about an applicant’s criminal history after the first interview. Moreover, employers may still refuse to hire an applicant based upon the applicant’s criminal record, unless that record has been expunged or erased through executive pardon.

The Act contains several exceptions. It does not apply to those applying for positions in law enforcement, corrections, the judiciary, homeland security or emergency management. It also is inapplicable to any position requiring a background check by law or where a criminal history precludes a person from holding a position by law.

Finally, the law prevents local municipalities from implementing local ban the box ordinances that conflict with the new state law, and any local ban the box law currently in effect, such as the law in Newark, will be preempted as of March 1, 2015.

Employers who violate New Jersey’s ban the box law will be subject to a penalty of no greater than: $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for a second violation, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. The law does not create a private right of action.

New Jersey is now the sixth state to pass its own ban the box law applicable to private employers. Massachusetts’ and Hawaii’s laws have been in effect for several years. Minnesota’s and Rhode Island’s laws became effective on January 1, 2014 and Illinois’ ban the box law becomes effective on January 1, 2015. To date, seven cities have passed their own ban the box laws, with at least four becoming effective in 2014 alone: Philadelphia, Newark, N.J., Seattle, Buffalo, N.Y., San Francisco, Baltimore and Rochester, N.Y.

Practical Advice

First, New Jersey employers should remove any criminal history questions from employment applications. Second, given the recent uptick in state and local ban the box laws across the country, multistate employers outside of New Jersey should seriously consider removing criminal history questions from employment applications.

For now, state and local law governs when in the hiring process an employer may inquire about an applicant’s criminal history. To further complicate matters, the 13 existing ban the box laws all differ in terms of timing. Massachusetts’ law bars employers from asking about criminal history prior to the interview stage. Hawaii’s law bars employers from obtaining/considering an applicant’s criminal history until after extending a conditional offer of employment. New Jersey’s law falls in the middle, with inquiries prohibited until after the first interview. As a result, multistate employers should consult with counsel as to the best time during the hiring process to seek information regarding an applicant’s criminal history.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Cozen O'Connor | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Cozen O'Connor

Cozen O'Connor on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.