Searching for a Job with a Criminal Record
A criminal conviction in New Jersey can have severe consequences, including jail time, fines, loss of driving privileges, and other penalties. Even after you have served your punishment, however, you could find yourself dealing with the ramifications of a conviction for the rest of your life. That’s because a conviction in NJ will leave you with a criminal record. Moreover, your criminal record could be easily accessible by prospective employers, especially in the Internet era.
The good news is that New Jersey has a law, officially known as the Opportunity to Compete Act (OCA) and more commonly known as “Ban the Box,” which protects the rights of individuals who have been convicted of crimes in NJ. The phrase “ban the box” comes from the statute’s prohibition of employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal record on the actual job application. In fact, the OCA specifically bars employers from asking about an applicant’s criminal record until after conducting the first interview. (An exception to this is when the applicant voluntarily discloses information about their previous arrest and/or conviction.)
Other laws and statutes that govern how employers can use criminal records during the application process include:
- The New Jersey Fair Credit Reporting Act (NJFCRA)
- The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
How to Hunt for a Job in NJ When You Have a Criminal Record
Despite the protections afforded by state and federal laws, job applicants with prior arrests or convictions on their record need to be aware that potential employers may still be able to learn about their pasts simply by doing a Google search on the Internet. Here are a few tips for still getting a job when you have a criminal record:
- Network: Many people get jobs through networking. This is one way around the arduous application process and can give you an advantage when the time comes to disclose your criminal record.
- Be Honest: Do not lie about your past. If there are mitigating factors in your case, take the opportunity to explain them to your prospective employer.
- Know Your Rights: Understand that you’ve got legal protections under the OCA and other laws. If you have any questions about your rights during the employment application process, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.
- Look into an Expungement: Depending on the nature of your criminal charges, you may be able to get the arrest and conviction expunged from your record.
If you have been arrested, or previously convicted of a crime, in Atlantic City or anywhere else in New Jersey, you need to talk to a qualified criminal defense attorney immediately. The experienced, aggressive criminal defense lawyers at Brown Law can help you fight the charges or get a prior conviction removed from your record. Contact us anytime to schedule a free initial consultation.