The Massachusetts CORI Reform Law Exemplifies the Reviews Required for Background Checks

A good article from Elaine Varelas of  the Job Doc in the Boston Globe or Boston.com as it is known.  A job applicant wrote her asking, basically, if an open container misdemeanor from 2008 would nullify his employment candidacy.   Not  necessarily the crime of the century, but an open container is a serious enough offense as it implies possible intoxication that can lead to serious traffic accidents, causing death and injury.    But with various employers nixing candidacy, the applicant is rightfully concerned.

As it turns out, and as Varelas rightfully reports, Massachusetts law states, " the employer's criminal background check cannot include: (1) felony convictions that have been closed for more than 10 years; (2) misdemeanor convictions that have been closed for more than 5 years; or (3) a prior first conviction for any of the following misdemeanors: drunkenness, simple assault, speeding, minor traffic violations, affray, or disturbance of the peace.”

Simply put, the employment candidate is  not out of the running because his background check reported minor crimes or convictions beyond a certain date in his past.   The Massachusetts Law, or CORI Reform, has some interesting points.   Those who may have messed up years ago but who have cleaned up their acts can no longer be rejected for minor offenses or ancient history.

As Varelas notes, there may be some issue in this case if the "open container" conviction is for a minor traffic offense or a misdemeanor that has occurred within the last five years.  In the case of this particular employment candidate, the open container conviction may not warrant exclusion from his background check and may prove an obstacle in his being hired.

When reviewing a background check, the employer or recruiter shouldn't rush to judgment.  It is incumbent that they first check out the state law and review what crimes and convictions should be considered and what is deemed negligible for hiring purposes.    While the Fair Credit Reporting Act has certain stipulations, each state has rules of its own.  Be aware of the laws in the states where you are hiring.

Views: 270

Comment by Valentino Martinez on July 15, 2011 at 2:52am

Gordon,

Unfortunately, most employers will opt to go with an alternative candidate if there is even a whiff of a criminal record, regardless of who minor or dated the conviction happens to be.

Comment by Valentino Martinez on July 17, 2011 at 2:27am
My guess is that employers will shy away from candidates who have a whiff of a criminal background in a job application.
Comment by Gordon Basichis on July 17, 2011 at 10:29am
Some do and some don't. As an employment screening service, we find a good number of our clients disregard non-violent misdemeanors. Old felonies, again, if they are non-violent, do not necessarily rule a candidate out from consideration. However, violent crimes are another matter. The age of the crime is a consideration, but the first concern is whether a candidate would be inclined to act out in the workforce. With workplace violence on the increase, at least some of it do to the pressures of the economy, employers are concerned. They consider the well being of their staffs and of course the liability issues.

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