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.