Massachusetts
  • Updated on 12 Mar 2020
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Massachusetts

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Ban-The-Box & Fair Hiring Laws By State

We update this overview of ban-the-box rules often. But laws change quickly, and we cannot guarantee all information is current. Always consult your attorney for legal advice.

Guidance
Ban-the-box compliance, targeted screens, and individualized assessments apply only when taking adverse action due to criminal records. They are not required when taking adverse action based on non-criminal records.


STATE LAWS — PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTOR

Who must follow: This ban-the-box law and respective background screening requirements apply to all employers in Massachusetts, both public and private.

NOTICE! CORI Policy Required: A person who annually conducts 5 or more criminal background investigations, whether criminal offender record information is obtained from the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services or any other source, including a commercial Consumer Reporting Agency, must have a written criminal offender record information (CORI) policy stating that it will: (i) notify the applicant of the potential adverse decision based on the criminal offender record information; (ii) provide a copy of the criminal offender record information and the policy to the applicant; and (iii) provide information concerning the process for correcting a criminal record.

Adverse action implications:

  • Pre-adverse action. Employers must identify the specific information in the report that is the basis for the potential adverse action, even when criminal history information is obtained from a source other than the State’s DCJIS CORI system. This means that even employers using a commercial CRA must comply. You must also provide a copy of your CORI policy along with the pre-adverse action notice. Employers using the STATE CORI system to obtain criminal record information must also provide to the candidate a copy of “DCJIS Information Concerning the Process in Correcting a Criminal Record.”

COUNTY LAWS

BOSTON, MA — PUBLIC SECTOR

Who must follow: This ban-the-box law applies only if you are a public sector employer or vendor for the City of Boston, MA, and use the state’s CORI system to obtain criminal record information. City employers and vendors who do not use the electronic CORI system should consult counsel to discuss the background screening laws applicable to them.

Timing of inquiry: Public sector employers and vendors may not inquire into criminal history unless required by law or the relevant position is of such sensitivity that a screen is warranted. In the case a screen is warranted, employers may only inquire into criminal history after the applicant is deemed otherwise qualified.

Adverse action implications:

  • Pre-adverse action. You must provide you applicant with a copy of your CORI policy, the background report, and specify what in the report could lead to final adverse action.
  • Individualized assessment. Employers covered by this law must conduct an individualized assessment prior to sending a final adverse action notice.
  • Final adverse action: You must inform the applicant of the specific reasons for final adverse action.

Note: These requirements are in ADDITION to the requirements under Massachusetts state law.

CAMBRIDGE, MA — PUBLIC SECTOR

Who must follow: This ban-the-box law applies only if you are a public sector employer or vendor for the City of Cambridge, MA.

Timing of inquiry: Public sector employers and vendors for the city of Cambridge may only inquire into criminal history after the applicant is found to be “otherwise qualified”

Adverse action implications:

  • Pre-adverse action. Employers covered by this law must provide applicants with a copy of their CORI policy, the background report, and notice of what in the report could lead to final adverse action.
  • Individualized assessment. Employers must conduct an individualized assessment prior to sending a final adverse action notice.
  • Final adverse action. The final adverse action process must inform the applicant of the specific reasons for final adverse action.

Note: These requirements are in ADDITION to the requirements under Massachusetts state law.

WORCESTER, MA – PUBLIC SECTOR

Who must follow: This ban-the-box law applies only if you are a public sector employer or vendor for the City of Worcester, MA.

Timing of inquiry: Public sector employers and vendors for the City of Worcester may only inquire into criminal history when required to do so by law or when the position is deemed “sensitive.” If these criteria are met, the employer may only inquire into criminal history after it has determined that the applicant is otherwise qualified for the position and a conditional offer of employment has been made.

Report review: Any personnel responsible for reviewing the background check must be trained in reading and interpreting a CORI report. Such personnel shall be required to attend CORI training and be knowledgeable about educational materials made available by the CHSB.

Adverse action implications:

  • Pre-adverse action. Employers covered by this law must provide applicants with a copy of their CORI policy, the background report, and notice of what in the report could lead to final adverse action.
  • Individualized assessment. Employers covered by this law must conduct an individualized assessment prior to sending a final adverse action notice.
  • Final adverse action. The final adverse action process must inform the applicant of the specific reasons for final adverse action.

Note: These requirements are in ADDITION to the requirements under Massachusetts state law.


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