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New Jersey Bans the Box – What You Need to Know

Posted by Liz Fairchild on Aug 15, 2014 3:38:39 AM

ban-the-box21On August 11, 2014 Gov. Chris Christie and the state of New Jersey joined the ranks of Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island, and Illinois that “Ban the Box,” restricting employers from inquiring into a job applicant’s criminal record during the initial hiring process. The legislation will go into effect on March 2015.

Unlike San Francisco and Seattle, which include additional requirements for employers, the “Opportunity to Compete Act,” Bill 1999 appears to be relatively standard Ban the Box legislation. However, New Jersey employers may make criminal background inquiries prior to making a formal offer (Forbes). Furthermore, it will preempt a similar ordinance in Newark, NJ, which requires employers to have a special process in place for Newark.

Opportunity to Compete Act – what you need to know:

  • The law applies to an employer (public or private) with 15 or more employees and prohibits that employer from requiring a job applicant to complete any employment application that inquires about the applicant’s criminal record during the initial employment application process. “Criminal record” includes arrests, detentions, indictments or other formal criminal charges, and any disposition arising from those. (
  • The initial hiring process requires that the employer has: conducted an interview, made a determination that the applicant is qualified for the position, and has selected the applicant as its first choice for the position. (Forbes)
  • An employer cannot publish any advertisement/job posting which explicitly states that the employer will not consider any applicant who has been arrested or convicted of one or more crimes or offenses unless it is one of the exceptions under the law (i.e., law enforcement positions) (
  • Violations of the law carry civil penalties ranging from $1,000 to $10,000. (
  • The law is effective March 1, 2015. (

Stay tuned from more Accurate Background analysis of the legislation in the coming months. Read more coverage of the legislation on attorney Montserrat Miller's blog


Topics: Opportunity to Compete, New Jersey, Ban the Box

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