Every state has a criminal repository, and county courts are required to regularly submit data about criminal records to these repositories. In New Jersey, there are numerous state and local laws that restrict the use of criminal background investigations during the hiring process. Before requesting a New Jersey state background check or any other background check service, employers need to be aware of these limitations.
Understanding the state law and the procedure for requesting public records in New Jersey is helpful. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives those who need access to records the right to do so. Knowing the state’s laws is crucial before submitting a request because each state has different procedures.
The New Jersey Public Records Law
The Open Public Records Act (OPRA) in New Jersey was passed in 1963 and then revised in 2001. Various state agencies currently hold more than 20 million public records. All 33 counties in New Jersey have access to public records that date as far back as 1621.
Due to the ongoing standardization of digital public records, third-party and governmental websites both provide these records online with increased dependability. In accordance with the New Jersey Inspection of Public Records Act regulations, which assume that all official information and documents are available to the public, many New Jersey State records are readily accessible online.
According to the New Jersey Public Records Law, a public agency has seven business days, unless there is an interruption, to respond to a request for records. If there is a delay, the state government must explain the situation and offer a revised schedule.
Legislative records are exempt from the law’s public access requirements, but all other branches must abide by it.
New Jersey Background Check Laws
Employers must abide by all applicable federal and state laws when conducting pre-employment background checks. Penalties, fines, and legal action could result from breaking the law.
The most significant federal and state laws for New Jersey employers are briefly summarized below.
Federal Regulations on Background Checks for Employment
One of the most significant federal laws governing background checks and hiring procedures is the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the FCRA, which safeguards consumer privacy and guarantees the fairness and accuracy of the data gathered and shared by consumer reporting agencies.
The FCRA also regulates the use of data from pre-employment background check reports by employers.
A New Jersey background check requires the applicant’s written consent, which must be obtained by the employer before it can be done. Before making a final decision, an employer must follow the FCRA’s adverse action process if it decides not to hire an applicant as a result of data from a background check.
The first federal anti-discrimination law in the United States is Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. When an applicant’s criminal history is discovered during a background check for employment, this law is applicable.
Title VII is enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which also mandates that employers evaluate each applicant’s criminal history individually during pre-employment background checks. According to EEOC guidelines, any convictions must be evaluated in light of how they apply to the particular position for which an employer is hiring.
New Jersey State Laws on Employment Background Checks
Employers in New Jersey are required to abide by a number of state laws in addition to federal law:
- New Jersey’s Law on Equal Opportunity
- Clean Slate Law in New Jersey
- Notice is necessary before conducting investigative consumer reports.
- Warning of Rights Before Restrictive Action
- Salary History Requests Are Not Allowed
- Information Gathering on Social Media Is Prohibited
Information from a Background Check in New Jersey
Depending on the kinds of reports you request, a background check could reveal certain information. The majority of employers request information about a candidate’s criminal history, employment history, education, and professional license checks.
For applicants who will drive while performing their jobs, some employers also ask for driving records. Many also ask for drug tests before hiring.
The following types of data will be included in background checks conducted prior to employment:
- Convictions for misdemeanors and felonies that have not been erased or pardoned
- Unresolved criminal cases
- arrests that resulted in verdicts
- Information from the sex offenders’ registry
- employment background
- knowledge of history
- Location history
- Information about the Domestic Terrorist Watch List
What can you expect to see on some of these reports? Let’s look at what’s below.
You will see the following details if a candidate’s criminal record has not been sealed:
- Jurisdiction in which the record was made
- Case No.
- Defendant’s Charge
- Date of filing
- Offense level, such as misdemeanor
- Date of disposition
You won’t see any details about expunged convictions if an applicant has successfully expunged their record.
When you request an education verification report, the following types of data will be available:
- Every educational establishment was present.
- Dates of attendance
- Any degrees, certificates, or diplomas awarded
You can determine whether an applicant attended the institutions and received the degrees or certifications reported by asking for an education verification.
You can determine if an applicant has been truthful about his or her employment history by conducting an employment verification. You will find the following types of information on this kind of report:
- Employers a candidate has worked for and their respective employment dates
- positions/titles held at each job
A New Jersey background check is possible by observing the above listed principles. Try them out and find out more information on the candidate you are looking to hire.