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Effective March 1, 2015, New Jersey employers of 15 or more may not ask job applicants about their criminal history records until after an applicant has been interviewed and selected as the first choice to fill the position. New Jersey’s “Ban the Box” law also bars companies from knowingly or purposefully publishing employment advertisements stating that the company will not consider a candidate who has been arrested for or convicted of a crime or offense.
In both situations, the law provides exceptions for 1) positions in law enforcement, corrections, the judiciary, homeland security, or emergency management; 2) positions in which a criminal history record background check is required by law; 3) positions which, by law, preclude employment of a person with an arrest for or a conviction of a crime or offense; 4) employers that are restricted from specified business activities based on the criminal record of its employees; and 5) the employment sought or being considered is for a position designated by the employer to be part of a program or systematic effort designed to encourage the employment of persons who have been arrested for or convicted of crimes or offenses.
Employers may still inquire about criminal history after the initial stages of the employment process, however.
According to the National Employment Law Project, an employee advocacy group, a total of 16 states and 100 cities and counties have now passed similar legislation.
Diane Cadrain is an attorney who has been writing about employment law issues for more than 20 years.
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