Massachusetts CORI Reform

CORI stands for Criminal Offender Record Information. It is the listing of criminal convictions, arrests, and open criminal cases.

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In 2010, Massachusetts passed a law to restrict access to some CORI information, in an effort to help people with criminal charges in their past from being discriminated against. In general, access to records of most misdemeanor criminal charges will be restricted after 5 years or a clean record, and 10 years in the case of felony charges.

As of November 4, 2010

Employers in Massachusetts cannot ask about convictions on “initial” job applications.

May 4, 2012

Standard CORI access for employers and landlords. Employers and landlords will have standard access to CORI via the Internet, for a fee, for the purpose of screening current and prospective employees, volunteers, and tenants.  The standard access CORI report will contain the following information:

Convictions:

  • All murder, manslaughter, and sex offense convictions.
  • Any felony convictions that occurred within the last 10 years or for which the applicant was incarcerated within the last 10 years; and
  • Any misdemeanor convictions that occurred within the last 5 years or for which the applicant was incarcerated within the last 5 years.
  • CWOFs are NOT convictions for purposes of this law. In other words, if a person’s case was continued without a finding for a specific period of time and that time period has passed, the CWOF will not appear on the CORI.

o   Note: If any criminal conviction qualifies to be included on the CORI report under the above rules, then all prior convictions will appear on the CORI report as well, regardless of when they occurred.

Open cases:

o   Any criminal charges pending as of the date of the request, including open cases that have been continued without a finding.

Sealed records will never appear on a CORI report, and the report will not show that a sealed record exists.

Employers who make hiring decisions based on official CORI reports within 90 days of receiving the reports shall be held harmless in negligent hiring lawsuits that allege additional criminal background checks should have been conducted.

In addition, the new law also includes the following provisions:

  • Employers that decide not to hire applicants or take adverse actions based on criminal histories in CORI reports must first give applicants copies of the reports.
  • Employers conducting five (5) or more criminal background checks per year must maintain a written criminal offender record information policy.
  • Employers are prohibited from maintaining CORI records of former employees or unsuccessful job applicants for more than seven years from the last date of employment or from the date of the decision not to hire the job applicant.

Employers who continue to ask questions on initial written applications about felony or misdemeanor convictions after that date may be subject to liability under the new law, experts warn. The other provisions described regarding the new law do not take effect until February 6, 2012.

Further Reading:

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