New Jersey employers could soon be living with new hiring process restrictions intended to combat discrimination against the unemployed and remove barriers for people with criminal records, but those bills now before Gov. Chris Christie have undergone changes that should soften the impact for the business community if they become law.
The Opportunity to Compete Act, which would prevent employers from asking job hopefuls up front about whether they have criminal records, would also give businesses uniformity by largely preempting measures at the local level that cover criminal histories in the employment arena.
Experts suggest, for example, that a stringent ordinance in Newark, New Jersey, that bars background checks prior to a conditional job offer requires employers to consider specific factors when weighing the results and offers candidates a chance to respond before a final decision, would be among local rules to be preempted by the state law, if it passes.
“This final version simplifies the legislation and eliminates a lot of the burdens that would have been imposed on employers under the prior versions, but it would still allow job applicants to present their qualifications and get an interview before inquiries are made about their criminal backgrounds,” said Adam Saravay, a partner with McCarter & English LLP.