On May 12, 2014, the New Jersey Senate passed a bill (S.1440) that would make it unlawful for New Jersey employers to discriminate against the unemployed. The bill would prohibit employers from making decisions regarding hiring or terms and conditions of employment based on whether an applicant is or has been unemployed. A similar bill is currently pending in the Assembly.

We previously posted about the bill here when it received approval from the Senate Labor Committee.

The bill specifically provides that employers may continue to inquire into the circumstances surrounding an applicant’s separation from employment or consider an applicant’s job-related qualifications. The bill also does not prohibit employers from giving priority to applicants who are currently employed by the company.

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.

The bill now heads to the state Assembly for approval. Please check this blog regularly as we track the status of this bill in the state legislature.