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New Jersey Makes it Illegal to Discriminate Against Unemployed Job Candidates

Last November, I wrote about a potential new law that would make it illegal for companies in New Jersey to say that unemployed job candidates need not apply for job openings. Governor Christopher Christie conditionally vetoed the bill, and recommended several changes to it. The Legislature passed an amended version of the bill, which Governor Christopher Christie signed it into law on March 29, 2011. The new law goes into effect on June 1, 2011.

Under the new unemployment discrimination law, it is illegal for employers to knowingly or purposefully publish or print on the internet a job advertisement that states that (1) being currently employed is a job requirement; (2) the employer will not consider job applicants who are currently unemployed; or (3) the employee will only consider job applicants who are currently employed. However, the law does not apply if it would conflict New Jersey civil service laws. It also does not prevent companies from advertising that only job applicants who are currently working for the employer will be considered.

The new employment law statute also makes it clear that it does not prohibit employers from advertising any other qualifications for a job permitted by law, such as requiring a valid professional or occupational license, certificate, registration, permit or other credential, or a minimum level of education, training, or experience.

The new law makes it clear that it does not give individuals who have been impacted the right to bring a private lawsuit. Instead, employers who violate the law are subject to fines of up to $1,000 for a first violation, and up to $5,000 for any subsequent violations. This is significantly lower than the originally proposed fines of up to $5,000 for a first violation and up to $10,000 for any subsequent violations.

If you suspect you have been a victim of this type of discrimination, our experienced employment lawyers may be able to help you.