New Jersey Amends Ban-the-Box Law to Include Expunged Crimes

January 15, 2018
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New Jersey Recently Amended its Ban-the-Box Law to Prohibit Inquiries into a Job Applicant’s Expunged Crimes During the Initial Employment Application Process

New Jersey recently amended its Ban-the-Box law to prohibit inquiries into a job applicant’s expunged crimes during the initial employment application process. Gov. Chris Christie also signed two other bills that make it easier to expunge criminal records.

NJ Makes Amendments to its Ban-the-Box Law

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com

New Jersey’s Ban-the-Box Law

In 2015, New Jersey joined the growing number of states to “ban the box,” the portion of a job application form requiring disclosure of the past criminal record of an applicant. The Opportunity to Compete Act prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from requiring an “applicant for employment” to complete any “employment application that makes any inquiries regarding an applicant’s criminal record during the initial employment application process.” Applications may include any forms or questionnaires that job applicants are required to complete.

Covered New Jersey employers are also banned from making “any oral or written inquiry regarding an applicant’s criminal record during the initial employment application process,” which is defined as “the period beginning when an applicant for employment first makes an inquiry to an employer about a prospective employment position or job vacancy or when an employer first makes any inquiry to an applicant for employment about a prospective employment position or job vacancy, and ending when an employer has conducted a first interview, whether in person or by any other means, of an applicant for employment.”

Amendments to NJ Expungement Laws

The package of three bills (S-3306, S-3307, and S-3308) was approved by the New Jersey Legislature on December 7, 2017 and signed into law by Governor Christie on December 20, 2017. The sponsors of the bills explain that the bills are meant to prevent minor offenses from leading to a lifetime of punishment and that the new laws give offenders the opportunity to “reclaim their lives.”

Each of the three bills makes amendments to existing expungement law and procedure in New Jersey. Below is a brief summary of each bill:

(1) Bill S-3306: This bill strengthens the “ban the box” legislation that Gov. Christie signed several years ago by adding prohibitions on the ability of employers to ask about a job candidate’s criminal record. Of these prohibitions, this bill added inquiries into a job candidate’s expunged criminal record. The employer also may not use an online application that requires the disclosure of an applicant’s criminal record or expunged criminal record.

(2) Bill S-3307: This bill shortens the waiting period to apply for a record expungement from 10 years to 6 years and allows a person to apply for the expungement of up to 4 offenses, instead of the previous limit of 3 offenses, that occurred “within a short time frame,” as long as that person has not been convicted of a subsequent offense. The bill also allows for a shorter eligibility waiting period for a person to apply for expungement if that person’s only remaining barrier is paying a fine or restitution and if the court finds that doing so is in the public interest. This bill also makes more crimes/convictions eligible for expungement pursuant to this section. These crimes include:

  • Marijuana offenses, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell less than one ounce;
  • Hashish offenses, where the total quantity sold, distributed or possessed with intent to sell was less than five grams;
  • Convictions of one or more disorderly persons offenses and petty disorderly persons offenses, if that person has not been convicted of any other crime.

(3) Bill S-3308: This bill decreases the waiting period for a young adult to expunge their entire juvenile record from 5 years to 3 years.

For businesses, the amendments to the Opportunity to Compete Act provide much-needed clarification regarding both expunged criminal records and online applications. For individuals, the further amendments lower the threshold for seeking expungement of certain crimes. To determine how the legal changes may impact you, it is advisable to consult with an experienced attorney.

Do you have any questions? Would you like to discuss the matter further? If so, please contact me, Robert Levy, at 201-806-3364.