Search Site
Menu
“Ban the Box” Law Takes Effect March 1

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.

If you have any questions about The Opportunity to Compete Act, please contact either Victoria Britton, [email protected], or Nicole Sciotto, [email protected].

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Cecil Presenter at Local Government Attorneys Seminar

    Trishka Waterbury Cecil, Deputy General Counsel for the League of Municipalities and Past President of the New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys, will be giving a presentation about social media at the Institute's mid-year seminar "Legal Updates for New Jersey Attorneys," presented in conjunction with the League. The seminar will be held on June 8 at the Conference Center at Mercer County Community College on Old Trenton Road in West Windsor. For more information go to https://www.eventbrite.com/e/njilganjlm-mid-year-seminar-2019-tickets-61494725379.

  • Girls on the Run

    The firm is a sponsor for the June 2nd and 9th Girls on the Run 5K races in Fair Haven and downtown Somerville, respectively. Girls on the Run is a program for girls in grades 3 through 8 where teams of girls work with coaches and volunteers who assist in teaching life skills through engaging lessons and running. Associate Attorney, Nicole Sciotto is a member of the Advisory Board of Girls on the Run, Central New Jersey chapter. For more information go to https://www.gotrcnj.org/.

  • Strawberry Festival Fundraiser

    Mason, Griffin & Pierson is proud to support the annual fundraiser for Montgomery Boy Scout Troop 46. The festivities include school bands, the Blawenberg Band and strawberry shortcake. The event will be held on June 2 at the lower campus of Montgomery Middle School. For more information go to http://troop46.org/.

  • Celebrating Independence Day

    Montgomery Township will celebrate Independence Day with family events and fireworks on June 27. For more information go to http://www.twp.montgomery.nj.us. Mason, Griffin & Pierson is proud to support the celebration.