Legal Blog

Arrest Check Boxes On Employment Applications Could Be Removed

Author Clark & Noonan, LLC
Posted June 15, 2017
Category Criminal Defense

Employers Use of Criminal History For Screening Job Applicants Could Become Limited

In November 2012, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) reported that an “estimated that 65 million Americans — or one in four adults — have a criminal record that may show up on a routine background check report. At the same time that the numbers of workers with criminal records have risen, the background check industry has expanded and overall, more employers are now using background checks as an employment screen than ever before.”

“Ban The Box” is a national movement with the goal of increasing employment opportunities for individuals with prior criminal convictions, by removing questions regarding prior criminal history from employment applications.  Studies show that the inability to obtain gainful employment after a conviction or incarceration, is a major contributing factor towards recidivism. In December of 2011, the City of Atlantic City was the first city in New Jersey to enact a local ordinance banning “the box.” (City of Atlantic City, NJ Ordinance, “Ban The Box,” December 7, 2011.)

In early 2013, New Jersey Democrats are again pushing to ban felony conviction check boxes on job applications.  Under current law, if a job application asks if an applicant has ever been convicted of a felony, unless the applicant’s criminal record has been expunged, they are legally required to answer “yes.”

Highlights About Bill No. S.2586

The Opportunity to Compete Act (OCA) or “Ban the Box” bill (Bill No. S.2586), has a scope that reaches beyond employment applications:

  • Private and public employers in New Jersey could no longer ask (on an application form, or otherwise) about a job applicant’s criminal history until after a “conditional offer of employment” has been given.
  • The bill proposed to limit those who can run a pre-offer background check to only those employers required or permitted by law to consider criminal histories in employment decisions as a basis or condition of employment.
  • Only when hiring restrictions are mandated by state or federal law could an employer advertise a position was contingent upon passing a criminal background check.
  • Written permission would be required from a candidate to run a criminal background check, if the position was conditional, or a background check is run, candidates must be supplied a copy of the report should findings be used as a basis for not hiring the candidate.
  • And, employers considering a candidate would be required to provide the candidate with a standardized Notice of Rights form summarizing the OCA’s protections.

In the meantime, if you have a criminal record, you may be eligible to petition for expungement. Only certain offenses are expunge-able, and there are some restrictions.  If your record is eligible, our lawyers for criminal defense can help you put your past behind you. Call 732-333-3011 today for a free legal consultation and immediate help.

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