- Of Counsel
On August 11, 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed into law “The Opportunity to Compete Act,” also known as the “Ban the Box” bill. In an effort to remove barriers to employment for people with prior criminal records and, in turn, prevent recidivism, the law restricts employers having fifteen or more employees from inquiring into the criminal background of prospective employees and current employees applying for new positions during the “initial employment application process,” meaning the period beginning with an initial employment inquiry and ending when an employer has conducted a first interview. This prohibition extends to inquiries made through employment applications and any oral or written inquiries.
Once the initial employment application process has concluded, an employer may inquire into the criminal history of a prospective employee and is permitted to reject an applicant based upon the applicant’s criminal record. The Act also contains exceptions to the prohibition. For example, if the applicant is applying for a law enforcement position or if the applicant voluntarily discloses any information regarding his or her criminal history during the initial employment application process, the employer is then allowed to inquire about the applicant’s criminal record during the initial employment application process.
The Act specifically cites employer advertisements. Under the new law, employers are forbidden from publishing advertisements stating that applicants who have been arrested or convicted of a crime will not be considered. Local governments are also specifically addressed in the new law. They are prevented from adopting any ordinance, resolution, law or regulation regarding criminal histories in the context of employment, except for ordinances adopted to regulate municipal operations.
The Act sets forth penalties for violations– a civil penalty not to exceed $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. These penalties are the sole remedy for violations of the Act. In other words, the Act does not create or establish private causes of action by an aggrieved person against an employer who has violated the Act.
Employers should determine if the Ban the Box law applies to them. If applicable, an employer should immediately review (and revise, if necessary) its recruitment and hiring practices and documents for compliance by March 1, 2015.
Michael Rosenberg will be honored at the thirteenth annual New Jersey Golf Foundation Golf Classic on August 12 at the Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, New Jersey. Mason, Griffin & Pierson is pleased to be a sponsor of the event. The Foundation is the charitable arm of the New Jersey Section, PGA of America and was created to positively impact lives and communities through the game of golf. For more information go to www.njgolffoundation.org.
Girls on the Run (GOTR) of Central New Jersey is hosting a “Family Fun Night” at Somerset Patriots Baseball Stadium in Bridgewater, New Jersey on Friday, September 20 starting at 7:05 PM. As a thank you and in recognition of its generous support over the years, Mason, Griffin & Pierson will be included in the GOTR suite at the event. GOTR is a 10 week program in the fall and spring for girls in grades 3 through 8 to help girls successfully navigate adolescence. The Girls on the Run curriculum combines training for a GOTR 5K running event with lessons that inspire girls to become independent thinkers, enhance their problem solving skills and make healthy decisions. GOTR of Central New Jersey serves Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Camden and Somerset Counties. Associate Attorney, Nicole Sciotto is a member of the Advisory Board of Girls on the Run, Central New Jersey. For more information go to www.GOTRCNJ.org and to purchase tickets please visit www.somersetpatriots.com/tickets/groupportal; click “Group Portal Login” and enter group password “GOTR19”.
The firm is pleased to support "An Evening of Hope" on Thursday, September 12 at the Riverside Ballroom at the Lambertville Station Inn in Lambertville, New Jersey. The fundraiser honors community leaders, Steve and Christine Little. The event will raise funds to help foster safety, empowerment and healing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. For more information go to https://safeinhunterdon.org/.