In mid-August, Gov. Chris Christie signed into law the “Opportunity to Compete Act,” otherwise known as “Ban the Box.” This is good news for anyone who has ever been charged with or convicted of a crime in New Jersey.
The new law prohibits employers, public and private, from asking about a potential employee’s criminal record until the person had been interviewed and the employer has decided they’re the best choice for the job.
NJ employers can still run criminal background checks prior to making a formal job offer, but the law is designed to make sure people aren’t eliminated from consideration because of a criminal record. Employers are not allowed to inquire about expunged records, arrests that did not end with a conviction, and some jail sentences that ended five to 10 years ago.
Certain jobs are exempt from the “Ban the Box” law, including law enforcement, corrections, homeland security and emergency management. Depending on the type of crime and the severity, records may still be available to employers. Sexual offenses, murders and assaults will still be reported.
“Ban the Box” is a great thing for New Jersey. Past criminal convictions weigh negatively against a person being considered for a job, and many employers see a criminal record as a “red flag.” Thanks to the new law, people who have made mistakes, but gotten back on their feet in the time since, will not have to worry that their future livelihood will be affected by their past.
The “ban the box” law goes into affect on March 1, 2015. If you have questions about your criminal record, are seeking an expungement or you’ve been charged with a crime, the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help. Contact us today.