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Massachusetts Criminal Background Checks

Written job application forms can not contain any questions about prior criminal convictions (effective November 2010). Employers may ask applicants about their criminal history during an interview.

Employers will have access to a database which is expected to be accessible in May 2012. This database will only list convictions or pending charges. Felony convictions will be sealed 10 years after a sentence is served (down from 15 years; provided there are no subsequent offenses) and misdemeanor convictions will be sealed five years after a sentence is served (down from 10 years). Certain convictions, such as those for murder, voluntary manslaughter and high level sex offenses, will not be sealed.

Applicants must get copies: Once the database is operational, employers who obtain an applicant's criminal offender record information in connection with any employment decision must provide the applicant with a copy of the criminal history record:

(a) prior to questioning the applicant about his or her criminal history

and

(b) if the Company makes a decision adverse to the applicant on the basis of his or her criminal history.

If the Company provides the applicant with a copy of his or her criminal offender record information prior to questioning, the employer is not required to provide the information a second time in connection with an adverse decision based on this information. Failure to provide such criminal history information to the applicant may subject the employer to an investigation, hearing and sanctions by the Massachusetts criminal record review board.

Other convictions: The Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) database will contain information from Massachusetts courts; it will not contain any information on out-of-state or federal convictions.

Exceptions: The law provides an exception for Companies and non-profit organizations that work with vulnerable populations, such as children, disabled and senior citizens, as well as those that are prohibited by federal or state law from hiring ex-offenders.

For further information or guidance, please contact your HRO advisor.

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