Last month, Governor Christie signed into law an amendment to the New Jersey Opportunity to Compete Act (“OTCA”). The OTCA, more commonly known as the “ban-the-box” law, restricts employers from inquiring about a job candidate’s criminal record during the initial job application process.
The amendment to the OTCA went into effect on December 20, 2017. It makes it clear that the OTCA applies to expunged criminal records. As noted in the Senate’s statement about the amendment, an expungement is the “removal and isolation of all records on file within any court, detention or correctional facility, law enforcement agency, criminal justice agency, or juvenile justice agency” about an individual’s “apprehension, arrest, detention, trial, or disposition of an offense” in the criminal or juvenile justice system. Ordinarily, once an expungement has been granted, the person’s arrested, conviction, and other related proceedings are considered not to have occurred.
The amendment also makes it clear that the Act prohibits online inquiries about an individual’s criminal history. The law initially only referred to “written” inquiries, presumably leaving it unclear whether it applies to online inquiries.