5 Unanswered Questions about the Massachusetts CORI Reform Law

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In 2010, Massachusetts lawmakers passed the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) reform bill to create more employment opportunities for individuals with prior criminal offenses. The Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) will be rolling out new CORI regulations.

Employers must obtain authorization from applicants before obtaining a CORI report and employers have certain notice obligations before making an adverse decision. An employer must also provide a process for an applicant to correct or respond to CORI findings.

Reports themselves will only include 10 years of past felony information and five years of misdemeanor history with the exception of certain crimes. There will also be a more stringent requirement for an employer to store report findings and account for which individuals have accessed a CORI report.

Several gray areas surrounding the new regulations have left many employers wondering how the new laws will affect their hiring procedures. We’ll review five unanswered questions about the CORI reform law and propose what an employer should consider when implementing changes.

1. How will CORI reform impact data storage?
The proposed regulations change how the actual CORI documents should be stored when a consumer reporting agency (CRA) requests CORI on behalf of an employer. If the proposed regulations are adopted, HireRight would not store a copy of the CORI report on its system. As legislators get closer to finalizing these details, HireRight will provide further information for employers on document storage.

2. What if I perform national, county court or federal criminal searches?
The CORI database only contains information about crimes investigated and prosecuted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and does not include information related to federal crimes or crimes committed in other states. Employers conducting national criminal record searches, county court record searches, or both, will not be required to comply with parts of the new regulations.

However, if an employer is conducting 5 or more criminal history checks, regardless of the source of the search, they must have a criminal record information screening policy.

3. What is the difference between public and private CORI?
Public CORI (now referred to as standard access) is what most employers use to run statewide background checks. This database houses public records, which are capped after a number of years. Certain regulated organizations, such as schools and long-term care facilities, are required by law to use the private CORI system (required access), which extends beyond public record.

To use the private CORI system, organizations must be certified by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and given a secure access code. HireRight as a designated agency can perform searches on behalf of an employer for either standard or required CORI access.

4. Will I have to register to access the iCORI system?
Until recently, public CORI searches were conducted by paper using the US mail, while private CORI requests were made using an online database. Beginning on May 4, 2012, employers conducting public searches will have register to access the new iCORI web-based system.

The process for a non-regulated employer to grant iCORI access to its third party background screening vendor is not finalized. As legislators more clearly define implementation for the new iCORI system, HireRight will update its clients accordingly.

5. When can I expect to understand the final details of the legislation?
The DCJIS published draft regulations for implementing the legislation and accepting public comments on those regulations until April 19th. HireRight is closely monitoring developments around these draft regulations and will provide information when the final regulations are published.

HireRight Legislative Alert: Massachusetts CORI Reform Law
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HireRight Legislative Alert: Massachusetts CORI Reform Law

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HireRight is a leading provider of on-demand employment background checks, drug and health screening, and electronic Form I-9 and E-Verify solutions that help employers automate, manage and control background screening and related programs.

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