Employers would be prohibited from asking about job applicants’ criminal background until after the first interview but would otherwise be protected under a revised “ban-the-box” bill that was released June 5 by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
S-2124 (Cunningham, Lesniak), known as the Opportunity to Compete Act, is greatly improved from earlier versions of the bill. It would not impact the smallest employers (fewer than 15 employees) or subject employers to new unwarranted legal liabilities, such as a civil cause of action. The new draft contains less paperwork and red tape for businesses and allows employers to inquire about an applicant’s criminal record after the first interview. Previous versions required employers to complete a form explaining why an applicant with a criminal record was not selected for the position and would have prohibited employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal record until after there was a conditional offer of employment.
Nevertheless, the bill still goes too far. NJBIA has maintained throughout the negotiation process that we would support a simple “ban-the-box” bill that prohibited inquiring about a criminal record on job applications. Because S-2124 would dictate what employers can and cannot ask during an interview, particularly when the information is relevant to providing a safe and secure workplace, NJBIA remains opposed to the bill.