Hot New Topic – CORI Reforms

While some prepared for Cinco de Mayo celebrations the following day, Friday, May 4, 2012 was a different event in Massachusetts. The CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) reforms set up two years ago then went fully into effect. Unfortunately, employers, most likely smaller ones without HR may not want to celebrate if they get caught up in a web of new requirements with stiff penalties for failure to meet the new regulations.

The following does not constitute legal advice, but is a report of new legal developments, necessarily incomplete and therefore not to be relied upon for your individual situation.

The reforms create rules employers must follow if they want to learn about the possible criminal backgrounds of their applicants (in some cases, volunteers, tenants or even your neighbors). Employers may go online to access applicants’ records. The law limits what can be asked on an application, and sets narrow path for inquiry in an interview.

Simply put, unless there is another law or regulation stating that a criminal history will affect employment status for certain classes of employer, it is unlawful to ask about it on an application. On applications, a box that asks if you have ever been convicted of a criminal offense is now illegal – barring the exceptions below.  This is a discrimination matter enforced by the MCAD (Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination).  However (!), Massachusetts law does not prohibit an employer from asking about most serious criminal offender background information (at least the 10 -5 rule as I call it) * during an employment interview.

On May 4, 2012, these provisions went live. Information from the iCORI database is available to employers and landlords throughout the state. For a fee, these people can look into backgrounds for convictions related to killings, sex offenses, * felonies from the past ten years, and *misdemeanors in the past five.

The CORI reforms are not only requirements, telling employers what they have to do for applicants when they conduct background checks. They include record keeping rules. There is a brand new online database of criminal records and a new agency to manage everything.

However, employers that access criminal records through the system must obtain permission from applicants before viewing their criminal history. These forms must be kept on record for at least one year. Violations of the record keeping regulations are subject to fines of up to $50,000.

If an employer shares this information, it must be on a “need to know basis.” That such persons have this private information should be on file, and if anyone outside of the organization gains access to any of the acquired information, they must be recorded in a secondary log. They also add that these logs must be retained for at least one year from the sharing of any information and those employers may not hold onto iCORI records for more than seven years after the employee leaves.  However, if the applicant was not hired, then it becomes seven years after the final decision not to hire the applicant.

Another interesting addition to the law is that regardless of whether or not the information is acquired from iCORI, any employer conducting five or more background checks per year is required to have and maintain a written policy about how the information is used.

How will all of this affect the hiring process?  Some think there will be minimal impact while others thing there has been insufficient education of the public and business community and smaller businesses may inadvertently face a new class of discrimination claims.

Massachusetts Arrest Record Law, G.L. c. 151B, §4(9):

The law forbids an employer from requesting criminal information on the initial employment applications, with two important (but limited) exceptions

1) Employers with fewer than six employees,

2) If a federal or state law or regulation states that the applicant will be disqualified for the position for which he or she is applying based on a conviction of a criminal offense,  or

3) If a federal or state law or regulation imposes an obligation on the employer not
to employ individuals who have been convicted of criminal offenses
(e.g. Schools, Churches, and Nursing Homes)

For questions, please comment, for more specific or detailed information on the reforms or other business or employments issues, please feel free to contact me for a consultation. If you would like an entire training course, check out the mass.gov (http://www.mass.gov) website.

DISCLAIMER: All content that appears on this blog or on the bizatty.com website does not constitute legal advice. Thus the materials in this advisory should not be relied upon in making decisions about your personal situation. Every person’s situation is unique and the appropriate legal advice depends upon the facts of your situation. You should seek competent, professional legal counsel from a lawyer, such as Attorney Morse, to learn about your specific case and your available options. This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, as well as to give you general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.
Larry

About Larry

Attorney Morse represents individual and business clients throughout Massachusetts some remotely. He handles a variety of employment matters, negotiating employment agreements, severance agreements, confidentiality and non-disclosure language to protect trade secrets, etc., and resolving disputes. He assists businesses and partnerships at all stages through sale or dissolution. He helps clients in the purchase and sale of businesses and as an adviser to closely held corporations & limited liability companies.
This entry was posted in Current Events, Employment Law and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Hot New Topic – CORI Reforms

  1. Pingback: Applications: Best Hiring Practices Part 2 - Morse's Musings

  2. I actually liked this blog post. I think your material is actually actually great. 🙂 But I found the article title a little monotonous! I believe you actually are able to enhance on the headline by referencing how the finest bloggers do it. This’s a shame that you don’t obtain adequate direct exposure just because of your blog post titles. Also, why is there numerous spammers over here commenting here?

    • Larry Larry says:

      Thanks for the advice!

      This started as a small side project, that somehow we got flooded with spammers. A few have slipped through the cracks, but I’ve been updating the filters and catch maybe 11 out of 12 with it. The ones that escape, are either comments that were vague enough to be unsure about, or legitimately went through when the blog was first started and didn’t have a comment filter up. I try to be more proactive about it these days, but it’s one man against the world!

      I’ll try to work on the titles, but I hope you come back!

  3. Vitaly Izmailova says:

    would it be possible to translate your web-site into spanish because i have difficulties of speaking to english, and as there usually are not numerous pictures in your internet site i’d prefer to go through a fantastic of what you may be writting

  4. MetArt says:

    I think your article is pretty good, i found it from a good mate of mine from Thailand

  5. Andrea A Johnson says:

    Lots of helpful information. I have bookmarked your site.

  6. Pingback: The HR Dilemma: Best Hiring Practices Part 1

  7. Wesley Culbertson says:

    You guys did a great job spending your time to create this article! If I had to explain my emotions about your website in only one word ? it would be WOW! Thank you! P.S. Subscribed for updates!

  8. Marcelino Atmore says:

    Valuable information. Lucky me I found your website unintentionally, and I am surprised why this twist of fate didn’t came about earlier! I bookmarked it.

  9. Dubai Lawyers says:

    I am really impressed with your writing skills as well
    as with the layout on your blog. Is this a paid theme or did you
    modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing,
    it is rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays.

  10. Michael Robert Brown says:

    Happen to be trying to find this and learned much more than anticipated in this article. Thanks.

  11. Rachelle Majcher says:

    Helpful information. Fortunate me I found your website by accident, and I’m surprised why this twist of fate didn’t took place earlier! I bookmarked it.

  12. Douglass Stanback says:

    I simply want to tell you that I’m beginner to blogging and honestly liked your web page. More than likely I’m planning to bookmark your blog post . You absolutely come with incredible well written articles. Regards for revealing your blog site.

  13. QL says:

    Very good post. I absolutely love this site. Continue the good work!

  14. Shane K Richardson says:

    I really appreciate this post.

  15. Beatriz says:

    interesting information you wrote here, keep posting please.

  16. Catalina says:

    i’m grateful for the given information.

  17. Cris says:

    this information needs to be passed to other people, and i will definitely do it.

  18. Santos Fredieu says:

    you will have a great weblog right here! would you like to make some invite posts on my weblog?

  19. Anonymous says:

    well said and written! Thanks so much

  20. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It actually was a enjoyment account it. Glance complicated to more introduced agreeable from you! By the way, how can we keep up a correspondence?

  21. Daisy says:

    nice website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *