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Occupational and Professional Licensing Boards Cannot Discriminate Against Applicants With Conviction Records



A law signed in May 2021 and effective August 9, 2021, makes it unlawful for occupational and professional licensing boards to discriminate against applicants and licensees on the basis of criminal records or such conduct. The new law requires professional and occupational licensing boards under the Division of Consumer Affairs and other executive branch state agencies to consider whether an individual’s offense has a “direct and substantial” relationship to the activity regulated by the board or is inconsistent with public safety.

Previously, a board was permitted to suspend, revoke, refuse to issue, or refuse to admit a person to an examination for any certificate, registration, or license if they had been convicted of or engaged in acts considered a crime or offense of “moral turpitude” or “relating adversely” to the activity regulated by the board.

Under the new law, licensing boards are required to make an individual determination whether to disqualify an applicant due to a conviction. The board must consider the nature and seriousness of the offense, including time passed since the conduct; the relationship of the crime or offense to the purposes of regulating the profession or occupation; any evidence of the person’s rehabilitation since the prior conviction; and the relationship of the crime or offense to the ability, capacity, and fitness required to perform the duties and responsibilities of the occupation.

If you are an applicant, the licensing board must also provide you with written notice or “preliminary determination” of a disqualifying conviction, which explains how the crime or offense relates to the regulated activity; or why the certification, registration, or licensure would be inconsistent with public health, safety, or welfare.

If you are denied a license after a hearing, you must be notified in writing of the grounds and reasons for the denial or disqualification, and the earliest date you can reapply. Additional evidence of rehabilitation may be considered at that time.

Murder and any sex offense that requires registration carries an automatic presumption that there is a direct relationship to the activity regulated by the board. Also, if you were convicted of embezzlement, fraud, or crimes involving public corruption or theft within the past five years preceding the application, you may be denied licensure by the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs.

State Agencies Covered Under the Law

  • Division of Consumer Affairs
    All professional and occupational boards under the DCA
    See the DCA's Applying for a License page for a full list.
  • Casino Control Commission
  • Department of Agriculture, Division of Marketing and Development
  • Department of Banking and Insurance
  • Department of Community Affairs
  • Department of Education
  • Department of Environmental Protection
  • Department of Health
  • Department of Labor and Workforce Development
  • Division of Local Government Services
  • Division of NJ State Police
  • Motor Vehicle Commission
  • New Jersey Racing Commission
  • New Jersey Real Estate Commission
  • Office of Telecommunications Services
  • State Athletic Control Board
  • Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor