Blog

 
     

New Jersey Takes “Ban the Box” One Step Further with New Background Check Bill

By Michael Klazema on 12/18/2013

State governments throughout the country have taken 2013 as an opportunity to “ban the box” and require the removal of any questions about criminal history from job applications. Up until now, New Jersey has remained mostly silent in the ban the box argument. But rather than be late to the party on that particular provision, New Jersey’s Assembly Labor Committee has now gone one step further.

The committee last week voted to approve a bill that would prohibit employers from running background checks on their applicants until they are ready to make a job offer. In other words, the entire job screening process would run its course – from application to phone interview and finally to in-person interview – with employers having little to no insight into an applicant’s criminal record. When the employer has chosen the most qualified or otherwise impressive applicant, he or she would then be allowed to make a job offer conditional on the outcome of a criminal background check.

While New Jersey currently has no “ban the box” legislation in place, and while this new bill will make no changes to which questions employers can and cannot ask on a job application, the background check law would serve essentially the same purpose. Proponents of the bill have used the same arguments as supporters of “ban the box” or expungement laws. The arguments are still good ones, about how former criminals with years of good behavior and clean records are still being punished by prospective employers for a crime they committed decades ago, and how ex-convicts who have turned their lives around need to be given a second chance if they are truly going to overcome their previous offenses.

By not allowing employers to run a background check until they have chosen their ideal applicant, the New Jersey bill would hope to break the cycle of businesses writing off qualified individuals simply because of a single black mark on their records. It would also encourage employers to more closely consider the offense in question in light of the job to be performed. In other words, it would be a means of fighting blanket discrimination against ex-convicts in the workplace.

However, businesses throughout the state – as well as the Republican members of the Assembly Labor Committee – worry that the bill would hinder the ability of employers to protect their businesses, their customers, their property, and their other employees from potentially dangerous hires. For instance, the bill could slow down hiring processes for businesses that like to screen multiple applicants – and look into multiple backgrounds at once.

In the case of a convicted criminal making it to the final stage of the screening process, employers could offer that individual the job, run the background check, deem the applicant unfit for the role, and then have to go back to square one of the interview process. At worst, the bill could result in wasted  time by actively withholding relevant information until the last minute. Additionally, employers choosing to turn away applicants thanks to a criminal record would likely feel compelled to explain the decision in details– a bureaucratic step that many busy employers won’t like.

While there is certainly something to be said for fighting the discrimination against ex-convicts in the employment circuit, simple “ban the box” policies may be a better way of doing it than New Jersey’s more restrictive background check bill. Screenings for criminal history, sex offender status, and other offenses – all screening options that are available through backgroundchecks.com – are an important steps for any employer to take in order to protect themselves and their business. By not allowing employers to run background checks earlier in the screening process, New Jersey may be making a move that will diminish hiring productivity.

Sources: http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2013/12/assembly_panel_advances_bill_to_ban_early_employee_background_checks.html


Tag Cloud
Categories
Recent Posts

Latest News

  • June 14 Ban the box laws aim to improve opportunities for employment. Could they have the opposite effect instead?
  • June 13 Jacobs Petroleum Products is a regional petroleum company that operates throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and Maryland. Apart from their employees carrying much responsibility and have frequent contact with customers, the company’s hiring also tends to be segmented since individual store managers are responsible for hiring talent for their own stores. In this employment landscape, Jacobs Petroleum Products needed a reliable and effective way to screen its new hires for criminal infractions and other red flags.
  • June 12

    The University of Wisconsin System may tweak its hiring and reference check processes. The potential changes come after one of UW’s assistant deans was accused of sexual harassment.


  • June 07 Stories of abuse by coaches in youth sports leagues continue to crop up around the country, but rules and guidelines remain patchy and enforcement is often lacking. The struggle to implement an effective system continues nationwide.
  • June 07 Financial background checks, usually referred to as credit history checks, can be an effective way to find out if a candidate is fit to handle accounts, financial data, and other assets at your business.
  • June 06 The Society for Human Resource Management and the Charles Koch Institute recently commissioned a survey to find out how willing employers were to hire people with criminal records. The study indicates that managers, HR professionals, and employees themselves are becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiring and working with ex-offenders.
  • June 04 Are fingerprint background checks the gold standard for employee screening, or are they overhyped? We look at some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding these checks.
  • June 04 The organization, The Family Resource Center of North Mississippi (FRCNMS) was founded on the belief that families are the heart of community and that promoting healthy families leads to healthy communities. Read more about how they carefully screen and vet new employees with the help of backgroundchecks.com.
  • June 01 Past mistakes can have lingering effects in criminal records that appear on background checks. People with minor convictions can erase those mistakes for help starting over. 
  • May 29 The city of Greenley, Colorado has added background checks and new affidavits to its process for screening candidates for city council. The new measures come after a candidate with a felony conviction for forgery got elected as city councilman.