Effective June 1, 2011, New Jersey employers cannot explicitly exclude unemployed applicants when advertising job vacancies. Pursuant to Public Law 2011, Chapter 40, which was signed into law on March 29, 2011, an employer or its representative, agent, or designee may not knowingly or purposefully publish within the state, whether in print or on the Internet, an advertisement for a job vacancy in New Jersey that states:
- The qualifications for a job include current employment;
- An application submitted by an unemployed applicant will not be considered; or
- The employer will only consider the application from an applicant who is currently employed.
An employer may still post other qualifications for the job that are permitted by law, including a professional license or certificate, certain educational requirements, or level of experience. An employer may also post an advertisement for a job vacancy stating that only applicants who are currently employed by that same employer will be considered.
An employer who violates this act will be subject to civil penalties of up to $1,000 for the first violation, $5,000 for the second violation, and $10,000 for each subsequent violation. Penalties are collected by the Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development. Notably, this law does not create a private civil right of action for persons who claim to be aggrieved by an employer's alleged violation of its provisions.
To avoid steep penalties, employers should carefully review the language they use in job vacancy postings to ensure that postings contain no statement that an employer will not consider candidates who are currently unemployed. Although the law only prohibits the publication of explicit language requiring current employment as a qualification for the job vacancy, employers should nevertheless refrain from including language in a job posting that even suggests that unemployed candidates will not be considered.