Fair Hiring Practices: New Jersey Becomes Newest State to ‘Ban the Box’

Fair Hiring Practices: New Jersey Becomes Newest State to ‘Ban the Box’

Information for this article was sourced from NJISJ.org, NJLEG.State.NJ.US and Arentfox.com

On 8/11/14 New Jersey became the 13th state to ‘Ban the Box’. The impetus behind ‘ban the box’ is to ease hiring barriers for previously convicted applicants, in order to put job qualifications in the forefront. This new law forbids employers from asking individuals about previous criminal convictions. While 12 other states have implemented the ‘Ban the Box’ as part of their Fair Hiring Practices, the specifics for each state and municipality may vary. Contact FosterThomas to make sure you are in compliance.

The New Jersey ‘Ban the Box’ law takes effect on March 1, 2015

Quick Facts for New Jersey’s Opportunity to Compete Act/Ban the Box

  • This is also know as “The Opportunity to Compete Act” in NJ.
  • The law bars any employer with more than 15 employees over 20 calendar weeks from making initial hiring decisions based on an applicant’s criminal record. 
  • The law becomes effective 3/1/15 
  • The law provides for civil penalties of $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation.
  • There is no private right of action under the law. This means no job applicant may file a lawsuit if they think the law has been violated in connection with their application process.
  • Nothing in the bill precludes an employer from making an appropriate license or credential a condition of employment.
  • No one ineligible for a job because of a criminal history becomes eligible under the OCA.

 Download the detailed bill (PDF) from the New Jersey Legislature

NJ Ban the Box

An excellent article from the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice can be found at the following link. This link includes the jurisdictions with ban the box laws, as well as clearing up several misconceptions regarding the Opportunity to Compete Act.

Jurisdictions with Ban the Box Laws

Ban the Box laws have been in effect since 1998, and have been adopted by 10 States, the
District of Columbia, and 58 Cities and Counties throughout the United States.

  • States: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts,Minnesota, New Mexico, Rhode Island (and the District of Columbia)
  • Counties: Alameda, Santa Clara (CA); Muskegon, Saginaw (MI); Cumberland, Durham (NC);Multnomah (OR); Travis (TX)
  • Cities: Berkeley, Compton, Carson, East Palo Alto, Oakland, Richmond, San Francisco (CA);Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Norwich (CT); Wilmington (DE); Jacksonville,Tampa (FL); Atlanta (GA); Chicago (IL); Indianapolis (IN); New Orleans (LA); Baltimore(MD); Boston, Cambridge, Worcester (MA); Detroit, Kalamazoo (MI); Minneapolis, St. Paul(MN); Kansas City (MO); Atlantic City, Newark (NJ); Buffalo, New York (NY); Carboro,Charlotte, Durham, Spring Lake (NC); Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Massillon (OH);Philadelphia, Pittsburgh (PA); Providence (RI); Memphis (TN); Austin (TX); Newport News,Norfolk, Petersburg, Portsmouth, Richmond (VA); Seattle (WA)


‘Ban the Box’ Fair Hiring Policy: New Baltimore Ordinance Effective 8/13/14

Details for Maryland

Guidelines for Pre-Employment Interviews

Should you need assistance with how your business conducts pre-employment interviews, the hiring process, or onboarding process, in light of this new law, please contact a FosterThomas HR Compliance Specialist for guidance.

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About the Author

FosterThomas is a leading professional services company that provides solutions in the areas of Human Resources Consulting and Outsourcing, HR Staffing, Outsourced Recruiting, Employee Benefits Brokerage, Payroll Implementation and Services, HR for Government Contractors, Business Insurance, HR Compliance and Risk Management. We help organizations by providing solutions designed with a focus on cost containment strategies and increasing HR efficiency. FosterThomas HR Consulting was established in 1993 with offices in Annapolis, Maryland (Corporate), McLean, Virginia and Raleigh, North Carolina. Today, FosterThomas occupies a unique position as a full service provider of HR services.

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