Beginning Nov. 18, companies with five or more employees operating in Newark, N.J., will be barred from conducting criminal background checks before an offer of employment is made, and then only if the position is considered "sensitive" enough to warrant such an investigation.

Even if the position is labeled "sensitive" (which the law doesn't entirely define), the employer must still obtain the job applicant's consent before conducting a criminal background check. If the investigation then results in an adverse employment decision, the applicant has to be given 10 business days to offer an explanation or rebuttal.

The city is also developing an Applicant Criminal Record Consideration Form for the employer to justify its adverse or positive decision after the investigation, but the form is not yet available.

The new law also establishes time frames for the investigation. For instance, criminal convictions can only be considered going back eight years. Anything earlier cannot be used.