“Ban The Box” Bill S2124 Signed In NJ
On August 11, 2014, Governor Christie signed the “Ban The Box” bill (S2124) which will require companies that employ 15 or more employees to interview job applicants first before asking them if they have ever been convicted of a crime. This includes job applications as well as during interviews leading up to a formal job offer.
In New Jersey though, employers can still run background checks on a qualified applicant before giving them a formal offer, which is not the case in some other jurisdictions. So as an employer, you do still have the ability to find out about their criminal record before offering them a spot on your team.
This new bill creates an exposure for employers that aren’t difficult to cover, but can’t be overlooked or brushed aside.
You can easily keep your company compliant by making sure you toss the old job applications that still have the checkbox for being convicted of a crime and replace them with the new applications. (Download them free at the end of this article)
By March of next year (2015), companies with 15 or more employees will additionally be prohibited from promoting on job postings that those with a criminal record will not be considered. So make sure your job postings (online and offline) are adjusted accordingly.
Be mindful during your interviews that if you inquire about an applicant’s criminal history during the initial screening process you can be fined if it’s reported.
Penalties for violations include civil penalties of $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second, and $10,000 for each violation after that.
Steps To Ensure Compliance:
- Train anyone who might conduct a first interview on the new law, so they understand what they can and can’t ask.
- Update job applications if they include questions about a candidate’s criminal history.
While you’re at it, now is a great time to take make sure the application includes:
- Language around the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Verification of citizenship (I-9)
- Permission for reference checks
A thorough job application is an important tool in the hiring process, it’s worth the time to make sure it’s perfect!