New Jersey Limits Criminal History Questions

Written by Daniel W. Morris

Last week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed legislation that will prohibit most New Jersey employers from asking about an applicant's criminal history until after the first interview is completed. As a result, New Jersey employers covered by this law should review their employment application process to ensure their process and procedures comply with the provisions of the law.

The law, called the Opportunity to Compete Act, goes into effect on March 1, 2015. It is intended to make it easier for applicants with criminal records to obtain employment. With the new law, New Jersey joins the many states, counties, and cities that have enacted or passed statutes, ordinances, or policies to remove barriers to the employment of persons for applicants with criminal histories.

The law will apply to most New Jersey employers with 15 or more employees. It prohibits oral or written questions about an applicant's criminal history during the initial application process. The prohibition includes requiring an applicant to fill out an application form that asks about criminal history. The law will not apply to applicants who are required by law to submit to a criminal background check or applicants for positions in law enforcement, corrections, the judiciary, homeland security, or emergency management. Fines for violations will start at $1,000 for an initial offense and progress to $10,000.

If you have questions about this update or integrating this law into your application process or procedures, please contact the author of this article or an attorney at Clifton Budd & DeMaria, LLP.

About the Author
Daniel W. Morris
Daniel W. Morris serves as Partner at Clifton Budd & DeMaria, LLP. He focuses his practice on employment litigation in...
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