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Massachusetts State Employment Laws

The state of Massachusetts has restrictions on what can be reported in a background screening report beyond what the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) dictates.

RestrictionExplanation
Ban the Box: Use of criminal record only at/after interviewEmployers may not inquire about criminal records on the initial written application form. The “initial written application” form has been interpreted by the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (“MCAD”) to mean any paper provided to an applicant prior to the job interview. The MCAD noted that this new law did not prohibit oral inquiries, but oral inquiries are already restricted by MGLA 155B §4(9). This restriction has been noted above. However, these restrictions do not prohibit an employer from obtaining a criminal report at any time.

See the statute here for more information.

Notable Exceptions: These restrictions do not apply to employers if the law makes a presumptive disqualification based upon certain convictions or prohibits the hiring of persons with certain convictions. These employers can ask about these types of convictions on the application form.
Combination of arrest only records and time limitAn employer may not ask an employee/applicant, or any third party including a CRA, for employment purposes, regarding (1) an arrest, detention or disposition in which a conviction did not result; (2) a first conviction for drunkenness, simple assault, speeding, minor traffic violations, affray or disturbance of the peace, or (3) any conviction of a misdemeanor that occurred 3 years or more from the date of the application unless there is a later conviction.

See the statute here for more information.
Key Municipal Employment Restriction on Private EmployersBoston code prohibits discrimination based upon “ex-offender” status. See the Municipal Resource Tab for full explanation and exception. Cambridge and Worcester also have similar laws in place.
Limit on who can be screenedLandlords may only obtain CORI records on the Applicant for the Market Rate (voucher subsidized) housing unit. CORI records may not be requested for other household members. There is no indication that current tenants may be screened via CORI records.

See the statute here for more information.
Maintenance of RecordsUsers, employees, and landlords may keep CORI records for seven (7) years.

See the statute here for more information.
Maintenance of RecordsUser must maintain consent for at least one year. (Such documents are advised to be kept for 6 years under FCRA). Also, user must log the internal distribution of state-issued criminal records.

See the statute here for more information.
Must Provide NoticeA special consent form for the employer or landlord is required when CORI records are sought. An additional consent form is required to allow the CRA to conduct the search.

See the statute here for more information.
Must Provide NoticeEmployers and landlords must provide pre-adverse action notices and specifically identify any criminal record information that is the basis for the potential adverse action, 803 CMR §2.17 and 5.15. Additional information must be provided in the notice: such as a copy of Users' CORI policy and materials on correcting CORI records. The consumer is to be provided an opportunity to dispute information. The regulations do not set any specific period of time for this process.

See the statute here for more information.
Must Provide NoticeThe end user must provide special adverse action notice if the adverse action is based in whole or in part upon information in a consumer report.

See the statute here for more information.
Must Provide Special FormTo access CORI records employers and landlords must use a special consent form and gather identifying information on an applicant. Employer and landlord must attest to establishing identity. The form is good for 1 year. An employer may “reuse” the consent within the year if "notice of possible additional reports" is contained in the initial consent.

See the statute here for more information.
Prohibits salary history inquiry during hiring processEFFECTIVE July 1, 2018. Massachusetts is the first state to bar employers from asking about applicants’ salaries before offering them a job. As a condition for employment, it is unlawful for an employer to ask about or seek the wage or salary history of a prospective employee.

See the statute here for more information.
Use of Convictions (Time Limits)State CORI records are limited as follows: felonies 10 years; misdemeanors 5 years; murders, manslaughter and certain sexual offenses no limit. Prior offenses will be available if last conviction is reportable. See Exceptions.

See the statute here for more information.

Notable Exceptions: Employers are protected from negligent hiring claim if state record obtained is within 90 days of hire.

Additional Resources

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