Both houses of the New Jersey State Legislature have passed a bill making it unlawful for New Jersey employers to discriminate against the unemployed. The bill prohibits employers from making decisions regarding hiring or terms and conditions of employment based on whether an applicant is unemployed. Employers are still permitted to inquire into an applicant’s prior employment, including the reasons for separation from a former employer. However, employers cannot, in a blanket way, decide to hire only candidates who are currently employed.
In terms of penalties, the bill provides for fines assessed by the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Employers who violate the law may be fined up to $1,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second offense, and $10,000 for each subsequent offense.
There is no private cause of action in this law, meaning that private citizens cannot bring lawsuits if they believe the law has been violated. Rather, they would file a complaint with the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development. A full text of the bill is available online.