The Opportunity to Compete Act (OCA) took effect on March 1, 2015.

The OCA covers many (but not all) New Jersey employers. To be covered, the employer must do business or take applications for employment within New Jersey, and employ 15 or more employees over 20 calendar weeks.  The job position in question must be in whole, or substantial part, within the State of New Jersey.  The OCA does not apply to a position where there is is a law that disqualifies applicants for the position based the applicants’ criminal records.

For covered employers/positions, the OCA places four restrictions on employers’ use of a job applicant’s criminal record during the hiring process:

  1. An employer may not post a job advertisement stating that they will not consider any applicant with a criminal record.
  2. A covered employer may not use a job application that asks the applicant about his or her criminal record.
  3. A covered employer may not ask an applicant, orally or in writing, about the applicant’s criminal record until after the first interview.
  4. A covered employer may not refuse to hire an applicant based upon the applicant’s criminal record if the record or relevant portion thereof has been expunged or erased through executive pardon.


If you believe an employer has violated the Opportunity to Compete Act, you should file a complaint with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

To file a complaint, download Labor Law Complaint form MW-31C and submit it via the following methods:

  • Mail your completed claim form to:
    • Division of Wage and Hour Compliance
    • P.O. Box 389
    • Trenton, NJ 08625-0389
  • Fax your completed claim form to: (609) 695-1174
  • Email your completed claim form to: [email protected]


Please also inform NJISJ about violations by completing this online form.

LEARN MORE by downloading one or more of the following documents:


To read about the history and rationale behind the Opportunity to Compete Act, click here.