Bias Against the Unemployed In Want Ads Soon To Be Illegal in NJ

On June 1, 2011 a new law (N.J.S.A. 34:8B-1 et seq.) regulating employment advertisements goes into effect in New Jersey.  Under the statute, employers (and their agents) publishing job advertisements (in print or online) for vacancies in NJ are prohibited from “knowingly or purposefully” utilizing ads that contain one or more of the following:

  1. A provision that a qualification for the job is current employment;
  2. A provision that the prospective employer will not consider or review job applications from unemployed applicants; or
  3. A provision that the prospective employer will only consider applications from employed applicants.

Violators will be subject to a civil penalty up to $1,000 for the first offense, up to $5,000 for the second, and up to $10,000 for each subsequent offense.  The act does not create a private right of action for an aggrieved job applicant against a potential employer.  Rather, infractions are to be enforced by the Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner.  In no way does the act impact or regulate an employers’ actual hiring decision; it only addresses advertisements.

Staffing companies seeking to fill jobs in NJ for their clients should be aware that the act applies to their activities.  Therefore, if a client requisition for a NJ position has as one of its requirements that the “unemployed need not apply,” such requirement should be excluded from the ad.

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