N.J. ‘bans the box,’ preventing automatic disclosure of job seeker’s criminal record

 Governor Chris Christie signs bail reform legislation in a ceremony onthe steps of Trenton's City Hall / Phil Gregory

Governor Chris Christie signs bail reform legislation in a ceremony onthe steps of Trenton's City Hall / Phil Gregory

A bill signed into law by Governor Chris Christie prohibits New Jersey employers from questioning job seekers about a criminal record during the initial application process.

 

Sen. Sandra Cunningham, a primary sponsor of the legislation, said it means job applicants won’t have to check a box that indicates they have a criminal history.

“They’re judged basically just on the information that they fill out. They get an interview and they can tell their story. They can certainly tell what they did in life and where they are now,” said Cunningham, D-Hudson. “It gives them an opportunity to compete.”

Employers are able to ask applicants about their criminal record at the end of the job interview.

The new law will make a huge difference to people who have paid their debt to society and want to start over, Christie said Monday.

“This is a state that believes that every life is precious and that no life is beyond salvation, that everyone deserves a second chance in New Jersey if they’ve made a mistake,” the governor said. “So, today, we’re banning the box and ending employment discrimination.”

It’s all about second chances, said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“Banning the box by giving people a second chance in life, it’s what we tell people. Why do they keep going back to jail? Because we don’t give them a chance. This is simple,” he said. “Give someone a chance and you might be surprised what can happen.”

Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto also joined in congratulating lawmakers and the governor on signing the legislation.

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