For entrepreneurs starting a new business, the focus often is on developing the products or services being offered by the business and, maybe, financing for getting (and keeping) the business off the ground. Yet, regardless of whether the business offers products or services, no business can succeed without people. Therefore, setting up proper intake systems for hiring at an early stage is critical in order to limit exposure to employment issues as the business grows. One easy way to do this is by using a hiring/on-boarding checklist like the one set out below. While this checklist is not intended to be a comprehensive list of issues that all businesses need to consider when hiring, it should provide at least some general guidelines for hiring and on-boarding new employees. Every state has different laws applicable to hiring and on-boarding, so be sure to check your applicable state’s laws.
Prior to hire:
- Prepare job application (for Massachusetts employees, you cannot request criminal history information and must include a statement that requesting the candidate to undergo a lie detector test is unlawful).
- Prepare employee handbook, including “at will” status, hours of work, absence policies, anti-harassment/anti-discrimination policies (be specific about no retaliation and
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In Part 1 and Part 2 I discussed four steps that I recommend employers follow in using criminal records. Here in Part 3 and the last part of this series, I address the process of the handling of the documents.
Step 5: Handling Documents with CORI
Criminal records information obtained from any source is confidential, and employers must take precautions to insure that such information is protected from disclosure. Because of the highly confidential nature of criminal records, the number of individuals who are authorized to request, access, receive and review such information must be limited, and there are strict procedures for handling, storing and destroying criminal records information. The new regulations provide for controls by:
- Requiring the designation of a CORI Representative for an employer;
- Requiring a Secondary Dissemination Log to track all distribution of CORI;
- Limiting employer registration for CORI to one year increments; and
- Limiting the validity of employee or applicant Acknowledgement Forms to 12 months from the execution date or the end of employment, whichever is sooner.
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In my prior blog post, I provided the first two steps for an employer to obtain and use CORI in Massachusetts based on the new CORI regulations issued on May 25, 2012. This post addresses the next two steps in this process.
These blog posts also address when an employer conducts its own CORI checks. However, instead of conducting the background checks themselves, employers may request an outside consumer reporting agency to perform the background checks. If you use or are an outside consumer reporting agency, please note that some of the requirements of the new regulations may be different than described in my blog posts.
Step 3: Notifying Employee/Applicant of CORI
Once CORI is obtained by an employer, the employer must provide to the employee or applicant a copy of the obtained information and the source of the CORI before making any adverse employment decision based on the CORI, or even asking the employee/applicant questions regarding his/her criminal record.
If the employer intends to make an adverse employment decision based on the CORI, the employer is first required to:
- notify the individual in writing of the potential adverse employment action;
- provide a copy of the CORI, identifying
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Massachusetts enacted broad reforms to its Criminal Offender Record Information (“CORI”) laws in August 2010. These reforms emphasize existing non-discrimination requirements and provide new requirements for accessing records through the on-line system (“iCORI”), as well as using and maintaining criminal records.
The first part of the CORI reform laws became effective in November 2010, requiring employers to refrain from asking employees and job applicants to provide their criminal record history. The second part became effective May 4, 2012, requiring employers to follow certain procedures for obtaining and handling criminal records information when screening existing employees and applicants, and providing employees/applicants with certain due process rights before an employer can make an adverse employment decision based on such records.
The CORI system is complicated, and employers can easily and unknowingly run afoul of its mandates and prohibitions. To help you avoid exposure to these risks, I have broken down the CORI process into five steps. The first two steps are detailed in this post and the remaining steps will be explored in separate posts in the coming weeks.
Step 1: Registering and Preparing for CORI Access
Employers must register with the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (“DCJIS”) to … Keep reading