Get to Know Massachusetts’ CORI

CORI, or Criminal Offender Record Information, is a specific term defined by Massachusetts law. Those that conduct background checks in Massachusetts might already know about CORI. For those that don’t, CORI isn’t the name of the person in charge of records in the state. CORI, with some exceptions, is generally defined as records and data in any form compiled by a Massachusetts criminal justice agency that concerns an identifiable individual and relates to the nature or disposition of:

  • Criminal charges
  • Arrests
  • Pre-trial & other judicial proceedings
  • Previous hearings conducted, according to state law, where the defendant was detained before trial or released with certain conditions
  • Sentencing, incarceration, rehabilitation, and release

The Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) maintains an online database of certain CORI information, known as iCORI.  Generally, employers that obtain such information from the DCJIS have certain obligations. However, even employers who don’t get criminal record information from iCORI may have specific responsibilities.

Are you running criminal history checks in Massachusetts? According to Massachusetts regulations, a person or entity that conducts five or more criminal background investigations annually must maintain a written CORI policy. That obligation applies, whether you get information from DCJIS or another source. Policies must include all provisions from the DCJIS Model CORI Policy. Verified Credentials maintains the DCJIS Model CORI policy in the Resource Library. There, clients can find other sample documents to reference too. These are helpful resources for employers as they create their policies.

Massachusetts Adverse Action Requirements

Massachusetts regulations also state that employers that choose to take adverse action against an employment applicant, volunteer applicant, employee, or volunteer based on CORI or any other criminal history information must do the following (before taking adverse action):

  • Comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations.
  • Notify the candidate in person or by telephone, fax, or correspondence (either electronic or “hard copy”) of the potential adverse action.
  • Give the candidate a copy of their CORI or other criminal history information.
  • Identify the source of the CORI or criminal history information.
  • Provide the candidate with a copy of their CORI Policy.
  • Identify the information within the candidate’s CORI or criminal history information used as the basis for the potential adverse action decision.
  • Give the candidate an opportunity to dispute the accuracy of the CORI or other criminal history information.
  • If CORI is considered a part of a potential adverse action, provide a copy of the DCJIS CORI correction process located in the Resource Library.
  • Document all steps taken to comply with Massachusetts regulations.

Employers may wish to review the Massachusetts laws and regulations with their legal teams to determine how they may apply to them.

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