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NJ Employers Banned from Discriminating Against the Unemployed in Job Ads

June 2011

Effective June 1, 2011, New Jersey employers are banned from posting job advertisements that discriminate against unemployed persons, pursuant to a new law passed by the New Jersey Legislature.

This new law prohibits an employer or its representative, agent or designee, from posting an advertisement for a vacant position, either in print or online, that states either: (1) the qualifications for a job include current employment; (2) the employer will not consider or review an application submitted by an unemployed applicant; or (3) the employer will only consider an employment application submitted by applicants who are currently employed.

The law does not prohibit an employer from publishing a job ad, either in print or on the Internet, that contains provisions requiring other qualifications, such as a professional or occupational license, minimum level of education, training, or professional, occupational or field experience. An employer is similarly not prohibited from publishing a job advertisement that states that only current employees of the employer will be considered for the position.

Although the law explicitly states that it does not create a private right of action under which an aggrieved person may sue, an employer who is found to have violated the law will be subject to civil monetary penalties of up to $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. Penalties assessed against an employer will be collected by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development.

The New Jersey ban against such advertisements is one of several state and Federal initiatives to combat the widespread discrimination against the unemployed. In particular, the U.S. Congress is currently considering the proposed Fair Employment Act of 2011, which would amend Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the basis of unemployment. Moreover, in February 2011, the EEOC held hearings to consider the treatment of unemployed applicants by employers across the U.S.

In order to comply with this new law, New Jersey employers are advised to review all of their current job advertisements to ensure that the language comports with the new prohibitions. In addition, considering the federal focus on the status of unemployed applicants, employers are advised to review and, where necessary, revise hiring procedures to ensure equal treatment of unemployed applicants.

For more information, please contact:

Catherine P. Wells, Member  |  973.530.2051 / cwells@wolffsamson.com
Margaret O’Rourke Wood, Member  |  973.530.2063 / mwood@wolffsamson.com
Denise J. Pipersburgh, Associate  |  973.530.2090 / dpipersburgh@wolffsamson.com