New Jersey is the latest state to “Ban the Box” on employment applications.  A movement that started back in 2004 to give persons with criminal records a fair chance at employment opportunities, Ban the Box continues to grow across the United States with over 45 cities and counties joining this growing trend.

The mission of the Ban the Box Movement is to open up opportunities for people with convictions in the workplace; to welcome people back to the community after their release from jail or prison; to institute fair hiring practices; and to eliminate any restrictions on membership, volunteer or Board participation that may exclude people with arrest or conviction history.  The bottom line:  the Ban the Box movement helps to give people with past convictions a fair chance.

On August 11, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed New Jersey Bill 1999, titled Opportunity to Compete Act.”  The law takes effect on March 1, 2015.  Every version of Ban the Box legislation has its twist.  For New Jersey, the law applies to all public and private employers that employ 15 or more employees over 20 calendar weeks.  Under the law, employers cannot inquire about an applicant’s criminal record until after the interview has been conducted, a determination has been made that the applicant is qualified, and that the applicant selected is the first choice to fill the position.  There are exempt positions as in other states which include law enforcement and federal positions, as well as positions in which an applicant is legally prohibited from holding the position based on a conviction or arrest.

Ban the Box is a movement that continues to grow, and one that continues to afford people opportunities which were previously not available due to the ability to exclude applicants from a job right from the start if they indicated they had a criminal past.

For more information about the Ban the Box Law in New Jersey, click here.

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