By Diane Cadrain 8/11/2014
"Gov. Christie signed Senate Bill 2124, the Opportunity to Compete Act, on Aug. 11, 2014. Also known as the "Ban-the-Box" bill, the new legislation will bar employers of 15 or more from conducting criminal background checks at the start of the employment application process, beginning when the applicant first makes an inquiry to an employer and ending when the employer has interviewed the applicant and selected that person as its first choice to fill the position.
If the applicant voluntarily discloses something about a criminal record during the application process, the employer may make further inquiry.
The law also bars companies from knowingly or purposefully publishing employment advertisements stating that the company will not consider a candidate who has been arrested for or convicted of a crime or offense.
In both situations, the law provides exceptions for 1) positions in law enforcement, corrections, the judiciary, homeland security, or emergency management; 2) positions in which a criminal history record background check is required by law; (3) positions which, by law, preclude employment of a person with an arrest for or a conviction of a crime or offense; (4) employers that are restricted from specified business activities based on the criminal record of its employees; and (5) the employment sought or being considered is for a position designated by the employer to be part of a program or systematic effort designed to encourage the employment of persons who have been arrested for or convicted of crimes or offenses.
Employers may still inquire about criminal history after the initial stages of the employment process, however. The new law will go into effect on March 1, 2015."