New Jersey Pass the Trash Law

The New Jersey Pass the Trash Law

The New Jersey “Pass the Trash” Law was passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Phil Murphy in 2018.  The purpose of the Law was to eliminate the long-standing practice of school boards getting rid of problem employees, only to have them move on to become employed by a new school district – i.e., “passing the trash” to the next school district. 


Inquiries Required to be Made of Prospective Employees

The New Jersey Trash Law requires that boards of education, charter schools, school districts, private schools, and independent contractors of these entities make certain inquiries when they are HIRING teachers, aides and other personnel who will have regular contact with students.  The hiring authority must ask applicants to disclose their current employer, all former education employers, and all former employers where the prospective employee had a position involving regular contact with students for their last 20 years of employment, whether or not the employer was located in New Jersey.  The prospective employer must also require the applicant to disclose whether they have been the subject of any child abuse or sexual misconduct investigation by any employer, licensing or law enforcement agency, or the New Jersey Department of Children and Families unless they were exonerated or the charges were not substantiated. 

The applicant must disclose whether they have ever been discharged, non-renewed, otherwise disciplined or asked to resign.  The applicant must disclose if they resigned or were separated from employment while allegations of child abuse or sexual misconduct were pending or under investigation.  They must be required to disclose if they left employment due to a finding of child abuse or sexual misconduct.  Applicants must also disclose whether they have had a license or certificate revoked, suspended or surrendered due to child abuse or sexual misconduct, or while such allegations were pending or being investigated.

Providing false information is grounds for automatic disqualification.


Inquiries Required to be Made to Former Employers

The prospective employer must then make inquiry for the same information from each of the current and former employers disclosed by the applicant.  Prospective employers may  also request additional information, but must request at least this information.  The current and former employers must respond within 20 days; if the prospective employer has not received the information within this time it may be grounds for automatic rejection of the employment application.  If current or former employers answer yes to any of the inquiries, the prospective employer should request further information which must again be answered withing 20 days.


Miscellaneous Procedural Matters

Information provided under the New Jersey Pass the Trash Law is confidential; it is not subject to public disclosure.  Although the Pass the Trash Law was passed in 2018, New Jersey courts have ruled that it is to be applied retroactively.  Termination or disqualification is not subject to union contract grievance procedures, tenure proceedings or appeals.  Employers will not be liable for discharging or refusing to hire employees because of information received in Pass the Trash Law inquiries.

Applicants for whom an inquiry has not been returned by former employers may be hired, but only provisionally and for no more than 90 days.                                                                                                                                 


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