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A “ban the box” bill, known as the “Opportunity to Compete Act” was recently approved by the state legislature and is headed to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for signing. The governor is expected to sign the bill, and if he does so, it will take effect seven months from enactment.

Under the bill, New Jersey employers with 15 or more employees would be prohibited from asking applicants about their criminal pasts on employment applications, and could not conduct criminal background checks during the initial employment application process. This time period is defined as “the period between first contact with the candidate and the first interview.” But if an applicant self discloses information about his or her criminal history, the employer would be permitted to go forward with such inquiries. After the initial employment application process, employers can ask about an applicant’s criminal history.

As with other “ban the box” legislation, there are exceptions to the bill, such as for law enforcement and other positions where criminal background checks are required by law.

Corporate Screening will continue to monitor “ban the box” news and will keep you updated on this and other “ban the box” legislation. Employers, we recommend that you regularly review your applications and hiring processes to ensure that they comply with all state and/or local regulations. Our account representatives are also available to address any concerns or answer questions that you may have.