MA Prohibits Criminal History Questions on Applications
On August 6, 2010, the Criminal Offender Record Information (“CORI”) Reform Act was signed into law. Under the CORI Reform Act (effective November 4, 2010), employers are prohibited from asking about criminal history on initial written job applications. This provision does not apply to employers that are subject to a state or federal law or regulation prohibiting or limiting the employment of individuals with conviction records. We will be providing additional information on the remainder of the CORI Reform Act’s provisions, which take effect May 4, 2012, in future installments of “Real Workplace Issues.
MA Requires Notice of Negative Personnel Records
In addition, Section 52C of chapter 149 of the General Laws of Massachusetts was recently amended to require employers notify an employee within 10 days of the employer placing in the employee’s personnel record any information that “is, has been used or may be used, to negatively affect the employee’s qualification for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation or the possibility that the employee will be subject to disciplinary action.”
The Massachusetts law broadly defines a “personnel record” as any record that “may affect or be used relative to that employee’s qualifications for employment, promotion, transfer, additional compensation or disciplinary action.” Since personnel records are not limited to those documents actually placed in the employee’s personnel file, it is likely that informal records such as internal Company e-mails and notes could trigger the notice requirements of Section 52C.
The new law also limits the number of times an employee is permitted to review his/her personnel records to two reviews per calendar year (excluding reviews triggered by the required notice of a negative personnel record).
In light of these new laws, Massachusetts employers should immediately: (1) delete references to criminal history in job applications (unless otherwise exempt from the CORI Reform Act’s requirements); (2) train management on how to properly “document discipline”; and (3) adopt a company policy of providing written notice within 10 days of placing negative information in an employee’s personnel records.