With the publication of the EEOC’s Strategic Enforcement Plan, many New Jersey municipalities may begin passing ordinances that protect job seekers with criminal backgrounds. The EEOC’s Plan, which has already taken effect, highlights the elimination of systemic barriers in recruitment and hiring as one of its nationwide priorities. Notably, New Jersey’s largest city, Newark, is leading the charge with its passage of an ordinance that restricts Newark employers’ ability to utilize criminal records for employment purposes.
- an arrest, without any conviction, can serve as a barrier to employment;
- many more Newark and Essex County residents who are or have been involved in the criminal justice system have been sentenced to probation and were never incarcerated;
- criminal background checks by employers have increased dramatically in recent years, with estimates of 90% of large employers in the U.S. now conducting background checks as part of the hiring process; and
- many individuals with criminal records represent a group of job seekers, ready to compete for employment and contribute to society.
- indictable offense convictions for eight years following sentencing;
- disorderly persons convictions or municipal ordinance violations for five years following sentencing;
- pending criminal charges, including cases that have been continued without a finding until the case is dismissed; and
- convictions for murder, voluntary manslaughter, and sex offenses requiring registry punishable by a term of incarceration in state prison, regardless of the length of time that has passed since disposition.