Private employers (“Employers”) holding contracts with New Jersey school districts and charter schools are reminded that it is now time to comply with the extensive background check requirements under the New Jersey “Pass the Trash” Act (the “Act”) in order to screen applicants and employees for child abuse and sexual misconduct in their former employment. This law became effective on June 1, 2018, and requires employers/independent contractors to conduct a 20 year employment review of its applicants and employees who will have “regular contact with students.” This employment review requires employers to:
- Request information from the applicant/employee about child abuse and sexual misconduct with current and former employers for the last 20 years;
- Collect the names, addresses, telephone numbers and relevant contact information of an applicant’s current and former employers for the 20 year time span, where the applicant/employee worked for a school or in a position that involved direct contact with children and inquire about child abuse and sexual misconduct.
- Obtain authorizations from applicants to conduct the employment review;
- Contact any out-of-state employers with whom the applicant/employee held a position involving regular contact with students; and
- Update employment applications for positions that involve regular contact with students to include the penalties for applicants who provide false information. The penalties include termination or denial of employment and fines up to $500.
In addition to its affirmative obligation to conduct an employment review for child abuse and sexual misconduct, New Jersey employers will also be on the receiving end of these inquiries. If an employer receives a request for information under the Act, it must respond within 20 days and disclose the requested information. Failure to do so may be grounds for the applicant’s automatic disqualification from employment. Importantly, the Act provides immunity to Employers who provide the requested information in good faith.
Employers who do business with New Jersey school districts or charter schools should review and revise existing hiring policies, practices and procedures to ensure compliance with the Act. Human Resources personnel should also be trained on these new legal requirements to ensure that internal hiring processes and employment applications are updated to comply with the Pass the Trash Act.
For more information about the potential impacts of the “Pass the Trash” Act or forms your company can use to comply with this new law, please contact Dina M. Mastellone, Esq., Chair of the firm’s Human Resources Practice Group, at email@example.com, 973-533-0777 or Brigette N. Eagan, Esq., Counsel in the Human Resources Practices Group at firstname.lastname@example.org, 973-535-7114.