On Monday, Governor Chris Christie signed the Opportunity to Compete Act (S2124/A1999) into law, which is designed to restrict employers from asking about prior criminal convictions on job applications. Christie enthusiastically hailed New Jersey as “a state that believes every life is precious” and “everyone deserves a second chance . . . Today, we’re banning the box!”
The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees over 20 calendar weeks who do business, employ persons, or take applications for employment within the state of New Jersey, and becomes effective March 1, 2015. The law limits employers from asking any questions (whether oral or written) about an applicant’s criminal record during the initial application process, unless the employment is for a position in law enforcement, corrections, the judiciary, homeland security, emergency management, or any other employment position where a criminal history check is required by law, rule or regulation, or where, by law, rule or regulation an arrest or conviction would preclude the person from holding such employment.