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Suitable for Work

Job ads excluding unemployed applicants are illegal in N.J.

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Small businesses and larger ones without an attorney on staff will want to read on to learn about the law banning job listings by New Jersey companies refusing to consider unemployed applicants.

It's understandable that those looking for a new job might not have one. After all, that's the precarious position most likely to lead to a job search, isn't it?

Back in 2011, some employers in New Jersey decided to require job applicants also be currently employed elsewhere. Obviously, that shut out many who were out of work and looking for something new.

This must, as Kara Larsen of Slater, Tenaglia, Fritz & Hunt P.A. writes at that firm's blog, have raised the ire of the New Jersey legislature, which passed in 2011 a law banning job advertisements containing the current-employment requirement.

Advertising is considered commercial speech when it comes to First Amendment jurisprudence, and receives less protection than private speech.

Courts apply the Supreme Court's "intermediate scrutiny" standard to prior content-based restraints on commercial speech. That means the law in question must promote an important government interest in a way substantially related to that interest.

Crest Ultrasonics didn't get the memo on the one-page law (embedded below). The Record reported January 7th the company earned a $1,000 fine from the N.J. Department of Labor and Workforce Development for placing an ad in which it refused to consider unemployed applicants.

So while ignorance is not a defense for violating the law, you won't have to plead it because you're a well-informed business person who reads the preeminent blog on strange business news, NJBIZ Suitable For Work.

The rule is simple, and so are the consequences: your job listings can't make current employment a necessary condition to applying. If they do, your company may end up with a $1,000 fine for the first violation, $5,000 for the second, and up to $10,000 for each additional violation.

Now, go forth and (lawfully) recruit.

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Write to the Editorial Department at editorial@njbiz.com

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