On November 21, 2011, a bill (A4298) was reintroduced in the Assembly (after stalling in the Assembly and Senate during the 2008-2009 legislative session) that would prohibit employers from discriminating against ex-convicts. The proposed bill is modeled after an existing New York law, Article 23-A of the New York State Correction Law.
Under the proposed bill, New Jersey employers would be prohibited from denying a person employment or a license because he or she has previously been convicted of a criminal offense or because the person has been determined to lack “good moral character” based on a previous conviction. Employers would not be subject to this prohibition if: (1) there is a direct relationship between a previous criminal offense and the specific employment sought; or (2) issuing the license or hiring the person would involve an unreasonable risk to property or to the safety or welfare of specific persons or the general public. The bill would require employers to consider the following factors to determine if either of these exceptions apply: (1) the State’s public policy of encouraging licensing and employment of persons previously convicted of crimes; (2) the specific duties and responsibilities related to the employment sought; (3) the bearing the criminal offense will have on the person’s fitness or ability to perform the required duties; (4) the amount of time that has elapsed since the offense was committed; (5) the person’s age when the offense was committed; (6) the seriousness of the offense; (7) information provided by the person showing rehabilitation and good conduct; and (8) the legitimate interest of the employer in protecting property and the safety and welfare of specific individuals or the general public.