New Jersey Upgrades its Ban-the-Box Law

On December 20, 2017, then-Governor Chris Christie signed into law Senate Bill 3306, enacting new protections for job seekers who have a criminal record. The law, effective immediately, is intended to give ex-offenders a chance to speak personally with interviewers and tell their own story, rather than being disqualified for their criminal history before even meeting a potential employer.

The original ban-the-box law went into effect in 2015, and prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from posting job ads stating that they will not hire anyone arrested or convicted of a crime, and from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history until after the applicant’s first interview.

The new protections in the expanded ban-the-box law prohibit covered employers from:

  • Requiring applicants to fill out an application that includes questions about the applicant’s expunged criminal history.
  • Asking written or oral questions, or doing online searches seeking information about the applicant’s expunged criminal history before the completion of the applicant’s first interview.
  • Refusing to hire an applicant because they have an expunged criminal record, or a criminal record erased due to an executive pardon.

Two companion bills, Senate Bill 3307 and 3308, were enacted on the same day. These bills shorten the time an ex-offender has to wait to have their record expunged, raise the number of convictions that can be expunged, and reduce the amount of time a juvenile ex-offender has to wait to seek to expunge their records.