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New Jersey becomes fifth state in the nation to extend job applicant protections to private sector applicants

TRENTON — Senators Sandra Cunningham, M. Teresa Ruiz and Raymond Lesniak issued the following statements in regard to Gov. Chris Christie signing the “The Opportunity to Compete Act,” prohibiting employers from inquiring, either orally or in writing, about a job applicant’s criminal record during the initial interview process and also barring them from requiring a job applicant to complete paperwork that includes questions about their criminal background.

 “Today, we made sure that one mistake doesn’t result in a lifetime of economic hardship. We need to do all we can as a society to help people with conviction histories to reintegrate into the community so they can provide for their families and themselves,” said Cunningham (D-Hudson). “Today’s signing is not just about fairness for individuals, it’s also about creating economic opportunities that will benefit society as a whole.”

“Now residents who have made mistakes in their life will have a real chance at securing a job and becoming contributing members of society,” said Lesniak (D-Union). “No longer will employers be simply allowed to exclude talented applicants before they are given a chance to make a solid impression.”

“One of the greatest impediments for people who have made a mistake is the mere opportunity to be considered for a job,” said Ruiz (D-Essex). “This is a step in the right direction and will afford New Jerseyans a second chance. It provides them with the same opportunity that everyone else gets to market themselves to a potential employer without any prejudices and work to secure a positive economic future.”