Effective June 1, 2011, New Jersey employers are prohibited from posting job advertisements that exclude unemployed applicants. Under the New Jersey Labor Law’s new provision on Employment Advertisements, employers are prohibited from knowingly or purposefully publishing (either in print or on the internet) advertisements that: (1) require current employment as a job qualification; (2) state that the employer will not consider those who are unemployed for the position; or (3) state that the employer will only consider applicants who are currently employed. Employers should note that this applies to all job vacancies in New Jersey.
The statute makes clear that employers may still advertise about other job requirements, including licensing, education or credentials. Further, employers may still limit jobs to those individuals currently employed by that employer and advertise as such.
Most importantly, the statute neither prohibits employers from declining to hire those who are unemployed nor creates a private cause of action to an applicant who believes an employer has violated the statute. However, the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development is authorized to collect specific civil penalties against employers who violate the act.
You will note, however, that, as we previously reported, the United Stated Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) has started to examine the trend of automatically disqualifying unemployed workers from a job pool and the negative impact on certain protected groups. Given this recent legislation and the EEOC’s position, employers are advised not to automatically exclude job applicants due to their unemployment and to scrutinize their job postings to avoid improperly limiting the applicant pool and violating this new law.