Law Offices of Michael T. Nolan, Jr.

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How a criminal conviction impacts a future job search

New Jersey residents who have prior felony convictions on their records may be concerned about the difficulty involved in getting a job. It is understandable to think that a potential employer could be biased against a candidate with a criminal record. The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice indicates that there are multiple laws in place to help protect the rights of convicted persons when applying for jobs.

According to Forbes, one of the laws that offers job search protections was signed by the Governor in 2014 and took effect in March of 2015. Sometimes called Ban the Box, this law is officially known as the Opportunity to Compete Act. It essentially places limitations on employers’ ability to ask about or investigate a candidate’s criminal past. The law, however, does not cover all employers. Only those who employ workers for at least 20 weeks in a year and who have 15 or more employees are bound by the law.

Employers are not allowed to ask about a criminal history on a job application. It is only after interviewing a person and identifying a candidate as the first choice for a position that a background check may be run. The candidate must provide written permission for the check and can also request to have a copy of the results.

Criminal arrests that did not result in convictions are not to be reported in an employment check. The same holds true for convictions that have been expunged. The law also places date range limits on what can and cannot be reported. The goal of the OCA is to help people with criminal pasts move forward in their lives.

 

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