On November 23, 2009, the New Jersey Legislature introduced identical bills (A4198/S12) that would prohibit employers from discriminating (denying employment) against persons who have been convicted of a criminal offense or because the applicant lacks “good moral character” based upon a prior conviction. Employers would be exempt from the proposed prohibition if (i) there is a direct relationship between a previous criminal offense and the specific employment sought; or (ii) hiring the individual would pose an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety/welfare of specific persons or the general public. The proposed legislation would require employers to assess the following factors to determine if the exceptions apply: (1) public policy of encouraging employment of persons who have been convicted of crimes; (2) duties and responsibilities directly related to the position; (3) the individual’s fitness and ability to perform the job duties given the prior criminal offense; (4) the amount of time that has elapsed since the offense was committed; (5) the individual’s age when the crime/offense was committed; (6) the seriousness of the offense; (7) evidence of rehabilitation and good conduct; and (8) the legitimate interest of the employer in protecting property and the safety/welfare of specific individuals or the general public. Similar laws in other states have created much litigation for employers.
The proposed litigation also seeks to preclude employers from asking applicants whether they have ever been arrested, charged with a crime, convicted of a sealed non-criminal offense, or offenses committed as a juvenile.
Employers who perform background checks would be required to (i) advise applicants a background check may be required with the application; (ii) within 30 days of requesting a background report, advise the applicant of same and the name and address of the reporting agency; and (iii) advise applicants they may review the background report. The employer would also be required to provide the applicant with a copy of the law. Under the proposed legislation, employers would also be required to provide any applicant who has been denied employment with a written statement as to the basis for denying employment within 30 days of the applicant’s request for the statement.
July 07 2010 by Robert
June 06 2010 by Robert