A Proposed Bill may prevent NJ Employers from asking potential employers about their criminal history
A bill was proposed by democratic lawmakers last week which would eliminate the box included on an initial job application which asks whether or not an individual has been convicted of a crime. The bill which is known as the “New Jersey Opportunity to Complete Act” would assist criminals convicts in their attempt to re-enter the work force. This “ban the box” initiative would postpone a background check until after a potential candidate has had an opportunity to compete with other eligible applicants and prove their qualifications to an employer instead of being immediately passed over for a job. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) feels that the use of a potential employee’s criminal history could violate Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and has stated that such actions disproportionately affect minorities.
Newark and Atlantic City already prohibited use of the criminal history box as well as nine of the state’s largest employers – Walmart, CVS and The Home Depot just to name a few. New Jersey would not be the first state to enact such a ban. Hawaii was the first to do so and has been followed by five other states as well as a number of large cities including Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
The current system permits an applicant’s application to be immediately discarded based on that one issue while overlooking the applicant’s credentials and qualifications in filling the position.
An employer would still be permitted to consider indictable offense convictions for ten years following the release from custody or time of sentencing or five years for a disorderly persons offense. New Jersey employers could still deny a job offer for certain crimes, including murder, attempted murder, arson, sex offenses requiring registry and acts of terrorism.