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Criminal convctions to be banned from job applications

The tri-state area has its share of crime. Having a tainted record can haunt a person for the rest of his life. One area it affects is the ability to find work. New Jersey has become the latest in a series of states who have voted to "ban the box" on employment applications.

The governor of New Jersey signed the bill labeled the "Opportunity to Compete Act." In doing so, a job seeker may now fill out the job application without having to reveal his or her past criminal record.

The bill would provide various parameters regarding whether the employer can ask for details about an applicant's criminal record. In some cases, it would allow inquiries after the person has initiated the hiring process, had an interview and a hiring choice has been made. In essence, it gives the job seeker a more equitable treatment in his job search.

Following the employment process, the employer is disallowed from looking into expunged records and arrests that did not terminate in convictions. There are some jobs that are exempt from the law. These include law enforcement or Homeland Security.

The state has incorporated stiff fines for any employer who does not follow the guidelines of the law.

As with any new law, there will be some wrinkles to smooth out. One example pertains to the geographical location of a crime or conviction or if an applicant could apply for a job located outside of the state. These and other ambiguities should be clarified prior to the anticipated start date of the law next year.

While this is good news for many who have spotted records, New Jersey still has stiff penalties for anyone who breaks any law involving felonies, deportation domestic abuse or harassment. If you live in New Jersey and are facing criminal charges, it is in your best interest to have a seasoned legal representative at your side who can interpret the changing laws so that your future will be free from employment constraints or other life consequences stemming from criminal charges.

Source: Forbes, "N.J. Latest State To Limit Employers' Ability To Ask If Job Applicant Has Criminal Record" John McDonald, Aug. 12, 2014

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