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A-3837: equalizing numbers for applicants with criminal record

Have you ever been denied a job due to a background check that didn’t clear? Some employers are very particular when it comes to hiring an individual with a criminal record. As it stands, there isn’t a lot that an individual in New Jersey can do to avoid discrimination during the hiring process based on criminal history.

That could all change with the enactment of a bill that was recently proposed in New Jersey. The bill has been given the popular name The Opportunity to Compete Act and the Assembly designation A-3837. Fitting to its name, this bill would give those with a criminal history an equal footing during the employment application process to those that have never been charged with an offense.

For some, their chances for employment are terminated before an employer looks at their resume, before references are called and before they ever get to step in front of an interviewer. Why? Because they checked off the box that says they have a criminal past, often without being given the opportunity to explain the situation.

The protection proposed in the legislation would last through the pre-application period and up to the point where a conditional offer of employment has been made. This is where the protection would end and an employer would still be able to consider any convictions. However, this ensures that the employee has been given every chance another individual may have to show the positive characteristics, talent and experience that they could bring to an employment setting or particular job.

A change such as this one is not something that occurs in isolation. Employment law itself and how it is applied under certain circumstances is continuously evolving. How can any employee expect to fully understand their rights? They don’t have to. An employee rights attorney can help determine claims and navigate even the most complex employment case.

Source: NJTODAY.NET, “‘Opportunity To Compete Act’ Would Limit Employers’ Ability To Consider Job Seekers’ Criminal History,” Dec. 16, 2013

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