Once you’re allowed to ask applicants/new employees about criminal history, what exactly do you say?
If you ask whether the individual has ever been convicted of a “felony or misdemeanor,” you may be missing out on crimes committed in New Jersey.
You see, New Jersey’s criminal code doesn’t use the terms “felony” or “misdemeanor.” Instead, it talks about “indictable offenses” and “disorderly persons.” While the court does acknowledge that an “indictable offense” is the equivalent of a felony, and suggests that a “disorderly person offense” is the equivalent of a misdemeanor, applicants may not know that. They could very easily – whether in good conscience or in an attempt to side-step the question – answer that no, they have never been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.
Because of this, careful employers (regardless of whether they have employees in New Jersey!) may want to ask whether the individual has ever been convicted of a “felony, misdemeanor or equivalent offense,” or a “felony, misdemeanor, equivalent offense, or any offense that could have resulted in more than 30 days incarceration.” After all, anyone who has ever set foot in New Jersey could conceivably have a New Jersey criminal offense.
A version of this article originally appeared in GIS’ quarterly newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here.