CORI Reform Finalized For Massachusetts Employers

Robert Capwell

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Massachusetts State SealThe Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) published the Final Regulations as they pertain to Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) on May 29, 2012. These final guidelines provide additional regulatory guidance to employers who conduct 5 or more criminal background checks in Massachusetts annually.  In summary, it is EBI’s understanding that most of the new legal requirements that became effective May 4, 2012 pertain specifically to employers who conduct criminal background checks via the DCJIS’ new iCORI system. However, both the CORI policy and adverse action requirements apply to all employers even when public record information is obtained from a “source other than DCJIS.



Employers Who Conduct Five or More Criminal Background Investigations Annually Must Have a CORI Policy
The Final Regulations state “Any employer or governmental licensing agency that annually conducts five or more criminal background investigations, whether CORI is obtained from DCJIS or any other source, shall maintain a written CORI policy, which must meet the minimum standards of the DCJIS model CORI policy.”

CORI law specifies a policy must include that the employer will: (i) notify the applicant if a potentially adverse decision may be made based on the criminal record information; (ii) provide the applicant a copy of the criminal record information obtained and a copy of the employer’s criminal record policy; and (iii) provide information concerning the process for the applicant to correct his or her criminal record.


DCJIS maintains a
Model CORI Policy on a DCJS website. Employers should consult with their legal counsel before implementing the model policy or before modifying any existing policies.

The Final Regulations also provide additional clarification for employers who take adverse action based upon information obtained via DCJIS/iCORI and for employers who take adverse action based on criminal history information received from a source other than DCJIS/iCORI. While many of the adverse action requirements are the same, there are slight procedural differences depending on the source from which the criminal history information was obtained.


Requirements for Adverse Employment Decisions Based on Criminal History Information Received from DCJIS/iCORI
 

The Final Regulations specify the employer shall:

  • comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations;
  • notify the employment applicant in person, by telephone, fax, or electronic or hard copy correspondence of the potential adverse employment action;
  • provide a copy of the employment applicant's CORI to the employment applicant;
  • provide a copy of the employer's CORI Policy, if applicable;
  • identify the information in the employment applicant's CORI that is the basis for the potential adverse action;
  • provide the employment applicant with the opportunity to dispute the accuracy of the information contained in the CORI;
  • provide the employment applicant with a copy of DCJIS information regarding the process for correcting CORI; and
  • document all steps taken to comply with 803 CMR 2.17.


Requirements for Adverse Employment Decisions Based on Criminal History Information Received from a Source Other than DCJIS/iCORI

The Final Regulations specify the employer shall:

  • comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations;
  • notify the employment applicant in person, by telephone, fax, or electronic or hard copy correspondence of the potential adverse employment action;
  • provide a copy of the employment applicant's criminal history information to the employment applicant including the source of the other criminal history information;
  • provide a copy of the employer's CORI Policy, if applicable;
  • provide the employment applicant with the opportunity to dispute the accuracy of the criminal history information;
  • provide the employment applicant with a copy of DCJIS information regarding the process for correcting criminal records; and
  • document all steps taken to comply with these requirements.


For the convenience of our Clients who need to comply with these requirements, EBI has created a Sample CORI Pre-Adverse Action Letter. Please contact us at 800-324-7700 for additional information.

Please note that employers who only access criminal history information from DCJIS/iCORI, either directly or through a consumer reporting agency (EBI), are subject to the additional iCORI requirements including: 

  • CORI registration requirements and training requirements
  • CORI access levels (“Standard”, “Required” & “Open” Access)
  • Applicant /Employee photo identification verification requirements
  • Documentation and recordkeeping requirements
  • Audit and enforcement provisions

Employers who may be subject to these new guidelines should consult with their legal counsel before implementing or revising their existing policies. We have prepared a more detailed summary of the regulations, and this document is available via EBI’s Customer Care Department at 800-324-7700 or customercare@ebiinc.com. As an additional resource, DCJIS has also published informative “Implementing CORI Reform” document to assist employers with complying with the new requirements.

Background Checks, Legislative Alerts

Robert Capwell

Posted By: Robert Capwell

EBI’s Chief Knowledge Officer, Mr. Robert E. Capwell, is considered one of the leading experts in the background screening industry with over 22 years of experience in the field. Mr. Capwell was a contributing author of the second edition of the ASIS Pre-employment Background Screening Guidelines and has written numerous articles and whitepapers for various publications including a periodic column on background screening for The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Online. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Human Resource Executive Magazine, Entrepreneur Magazine, and several HR-related publications. Mr. Capwell speaks regularly to industry colleagues and HR Professionals both nationally and internationally.

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