New York-Newark-Jersey City Metropolitan Area

The New York-Newark-Jersey City Metropolitan Statistical Area (NY-NJ-PA MSA) is the largest MSA in the country, with an estimated population of more than 20.3 million people. The area, also known as the Tri-State Area, is made up of 27 different counties across four states.

The NY-NJ-PA MSA includes not just parts of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, but also Connecticut. In fact, the MSA encompasses many of Connecticut’s biggest cities (including New Haven, Bridgeport, and Stamford) as well as the biggest cities in New Jersey (including Newark and Jersey City) and all of New York City.

Metro area rules
Much of the NY-NJ-PA MSA is required to abide by New York City background check legislation. In June 2015, the New York City Council voted to approve the Fair Chance Act. The ordinance prohibits NYC employers (both private and public) from inquiring about criminal history until after a conditional employment offer has been made. The policy applies to any employer with more than four employees as well as to New York City licensing boards.

Employers must consider each conviction on a case-by-case basis, follow the FCRA to the letter, and give candidates three days following a rescinded job offer to provide evidence of rehabilitation.

Also on the books in New York City is the Stop Credit Discrimination in Employment Act, or the SCDEA. This law bars most employers from conducting credit history checks or inquiring about credit history.

There are eight possible exemptions employers can claim to this law. Unlike in other jurisdictions that ban credit history checks, a position that involves access to financial information is not automatically exempted. Exemptions apply when:
1. Credit checks are required for the position under state or federal law;
2. The position is related to law enforcement (such as a police officer or peace officer) or involves an “investigative function” with the Department of Investigation;
3. The position is subject to a DOI background check;
4. Federal, state, or city law requires the position to be bonded (includes pawnbrokers, tow truck drivers, and ticket sellers);
5. Security clearance is required for the job under federal or state law;
6. The job is a “non-clerical” position that will involve regular access to sensitive data such as trade secrets or national security information;
7. The job involves responsibility for “funds or assets worth $10,000 or more”; or
8. The position involves digital security systems (applies to CTOs or senior IT executives)

Ban the box in this areas
Newark has always had one of the most extensive ban the box laws in the country. In September 2012, the city passed a comprehensive ordinance that applied to city employers, private employers, local licensing agencies, and housing. The ordinance banned questions about criminal history from job, licensing, or housing applications. It also delayed any job-related inquiries into criminal history until after a conditional offer of employment, and limited background check “lookback” periods to five or eight years depending on the severity of the offense.

This policy was superseded when the state adopted the New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act in March 2015. That law, which applies to all private or public employers with 15 or more employees, delays criminal history inquiries until after the first interview and bars employers from considering expunged or pardoned crimes.

Connecticut also has a statewide law that bans the box for private and public employers.

At, we provide multi-jurisdictional instant criminal database searches that cover the NY-NJ-PA MSA counties. In fact, with access to over 550 million records, we can offer you the #1 criminal conviction database* in the industry that can be used for criminal background checks. To learn more, you can visit our criminal database coverage map to see it includes New York County, Queens County, Kings County, Bergen County, Middlesex County, New Haven County, Pike County, and many others. You search all those counties by ordering our instant criminal database search.

Especially in metropolitan areas, it is not uncommon for a person to live in one county, commute through another, to work in a different community. In the NY-NJ-PA MSA, many residents even commute out of their home states for work (such as people who live in New Jersey but work in Manhattan). For these reasons, advises employers in metro areas such as this one to look beyond the county a person lives in during the employee screening process. A full metro check—and an address history search that determines which counties your candidate has lived in—can lead to a much more thorough background screening process.

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