New Jersey has become the twelfth state to pass “ban the box” legislation, which prohibits employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s criminal history during the initial stages of the interviewing process. The law, titled “The Opportunity to Compete Act,” was signed by Governor Chris Christie on August 11, 2014 and went into effect on March 1, 2015. The Act bars employers with 15 or more employees from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history until after his or her first interview. Additionally, employers are prohibited from posting job advertisements stating that individuals who have been arrested or convicted or a crime will not be considered for employment. However, there are exceptions which allow employers to inquire about an employee’s criminal history during the interview process if the work involves law enforcement or if the work cannot be legally performed by a person with a criminal record under state or federal laws.
Employers who violate this law face civil penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the frequency of its violations.