BAN THE BOX LAW AND WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU
NEW JERSEY’S BAN THE BOX OPPORTUNITY TO COMPETE ACT
Q: Can a company ask me about my arrest record on a job application?
In recent years many states have enacted what is commonly known as “ban the box” laws which restrict an employer’s ability to request criminal history information from job applicants. New Jersey’s version of this law took effect on March 1, 2015 and it essentially states that an employer is not permitted to ask about a job applicant’s criminal history during an initial interview or on the written job application. This is where the “box” comes in, it’s the box you were asked to check in answer to the question of whether you have been arrested or convicted of a crime
Q: So when can they ask about it?
With limited exceptions, that box should be eliminated from written applications and in a verbal interview, the employer is not permitted to ask about criminal history until after the “initial employment application process”.
As the formal title suggests, the rationale behind this is that a criminal history alone should not disqualify someone from a job that they are otherwise perfectly suited for. They need an “opportunity to compete” for the job.
Once hired and doing the job if the employer finds out while doing a background check, they will have had time to evaluate the person’s performance.
Q: So after I’m hired I can be fired for my past record?
Yes, the employer can then decide if that criminal record is such that they can’t have the person working for them. In the meantime, the newly hired person has had an opportunty to show their value to the company and hopefully overcome the employer’s concerns.
Q: So what happens if they ask anyway?
Unfortunately. the company gets a small fine and you have no recourse. What you should do is expunge your record so that you don’t have to worry about answering the question.
If you believe that you have been denied a job based on improper questioning, please contact me, Frank Montero to discuss your options.