Question: I heard the new Massachusetts CORI law went into effect on May 4, 2012 and I’m wondering if our company should now conduct CORI checks or other background checks?
Answer: Even if an employer is not legally required to conduct CORI checks or other forms of background checks, there are good business reasons to consider doing so. Knowledge is power. The more information a business has about an applicant or employee, the better the company can assess whether or not the individual is the right person for the job and the better it can effectively mentor and supervise the person if he/she is hired. Additionally, in some circumstances failing to conduct criminal background checks can subject an employer to a negligent hiring claim. If you are going to conduct CORI or any other form of background check, you want to be consistent in who you check. You open yourself up to discriminatory hiring practices if you only check some applicants and not others.
If an employer does conduct MA CORI checks specifically, the employer will be subject to strict procedural requirements and to audits by the MA Department of Criminal Justice Information Systems. Failure to follow those requirements can subject an employer to civil and criminal liability. Further, an employer that obtains or uses criminal history information in a discriminatory manner can be subject to liability.