Massachusetts Governor Patrick Signs Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Reform Law
On August 6, 2010, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Law (Senate Bill 2583). This law amends the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practice Law and contains several components that significantly affect employers who request CORI records.
Effective November 4, 2010, employers will be prohibited from asking questions about an applicant’s “criminal offender record information” on an “initial written application form.” It is EBI’s understanding that the only exceptions to this rule are state or federal jobs where there is a mandatory or presumptive disqualification for a conviction, or state or federal law prohibits hiring a person with one or more convictions.
The remainder of the new provisions are scheduled to take effect on February 6, 2012 and include:
- Employers who annually conduct five or more criminal background investigations will be required to maintain a written CORI policy that (a) notifies the applicant of the potential adverse decision based on the criminal offender record information; (b) provides a copy of the criminal offender record information and the policy to the applicant, and (c) provides information concerning the process for correcting a criminal record.
- Generally, an individual’s CORI record will no longer include (a) felony convictions that have been closed for more than ten years, and (b) misdemeanor convictions that have been closed for more than five years. Convictions for murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and sex offenses stay in the database forever unless sealed, and authorized employers (schools, nursing homes, child care) will continue to get unrestricted results that include unsealed convictions and non-convictions.
- The law prohibits employers from maintaining (a) a former employee’s CORI record for more than seven years from the former employee’s last date of employment, or (b) an unsuccessful candidate’s CORI record for more than seven years from the date of the decision not to hire the candidate.
- There are some protections for employers related to their use of and reliance on CORI records so long as the employer made the employment decision within 90 days of receipt of the CORI record and verified the information in the CORI record as set forth in the law’s requirements.
In addition, a new Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) has been created in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. CJIS replaces the Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB) and acquires its regulatory authority and responsibility for enforcing these new laws.
Employers subject to these new requirements should contact both the CJIS and legal counsel for guidance immediately and/or revise their policies accordingly.