There are numerous state and local regulations on the books in New Jersey that limit the use of criminal background checks in hiring. Employers should be aware of these restrictions before ordering a New Jersey state background check or any other background check service. We have outlined the major policies below.
Ban the Box
New Jersey is one of 30 states that have adopted ban the box legislation at the state level. As of March 1, 2015, the state observes the New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act, which prohibits all private and public employers in the state from asking questions about a candidate’s criminal history until after the first interview. The law applies to any kind of background inquiry, including questions on the job application, job interview prompts, and background checks. All these inquiries must be delayed until after that first interview.
The Opportunity to Compete Act bans employers from asking candidates about expunged offenses or considering expunged offenses in hiring decisions.
Arrests and Convictions
Employers in New Jersey are permitted to inquire about, access, and use arrest or conviction records during their hiring processes. While many other states have laws restricting the use of arrest records, there is no such law on the books in New Jersey. However, employers are legally obligated to give each candidate a chance to respond to background check findings and confirm or deny their validity. In other words, an employer cannot rescind an employment offer or disqualify a candidate based on criminal background check findings without first making the candidate aware of any problematic findings.
The Opportunity to Compete Act also regulates the way employers with 15 or more employees can promote job openings. Employers that meet the 15-person minimum cannot post job advertisements with “individuals with arrest or criminal histories need not apply” language. What employers can do is advertise jobs in the opposite fashion, encouraging all candidates—including those with criminal records—to apply.
Do note that this New Jersey background check will not include details about arrest history. Even in states where employers are legally permitted to consider arrests, there is debate about the validity of these considerations and whether they represent violations of civil or human rights. Since arrests without convictions do not prove guilt—and since certain minority groups are statistically more likely to be arrested than other segments of the population—employers are usually encouraged to investigate arrest records more thoroughly before taking them into account. Since most employers do not have the resources to conduct these additional investigations, backgroundchecks.com opts not to show arrest records on background check reports.