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CORI and Employment

Having a criminal record can stop you from getting a job, but there are laws about what an employer can ask about your past criminal charges. Read more about the connection between having a CORI and getting a job.  

If you have a CORI, there are things you should know when you apply for jobs.

What is Ban the Box?

Can an employer have a rule against hiring people with criminal records?

Who can see my CORI, and how much do they get to see?

When I apply for a job in Massachusetts, what are employers allowed to ask me about my criminal record?

Are there things an employer is not allowed to ask me about?

Can anyone help me find a job?

What does it mean to get a criminal record sealed? Can I get my record sealed?

I cannot seal my record for many years. What can I do now?

What is Ban the Box?

“Ban the box” was passed to stop employers from rejecting people for jobs without even bothering to meet them or really look over the job application. Before the new law was passed, people applying for jobs had to check off a box on job applications if they had a criminal record.

Ban the box makes it illegal for most employers to ask you if you have a criminal record on a job application. Only a few employers can ask you about convictions if a state or federal law makes or lets them ask you about your records at this stage.

For more information about Ban the Box read the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination factsheet Criminal Offender Record Information Administrative Procedure Reforms.

You can report violations of the law to MCAD (617) 994-6000.

Can an employer have a rule against hiring people with criminal records?

No. This kind of hiring rule is almost always illegal. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has said that automatically rejecting people with criminal records for jobs is a form of race discrimination. It violates civil rights laws.1 The only employers allowed to have this kind of rule must prove they need the rule to do business. For more information, see the EEOC’s policy guidance on this topic.

Endnotes

1 An employer who refuses to hire any workers with criminal records violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 unless the employer can show it is necessary to do so to run the business. This is because using criminal records to not hire people has a “disparate impact” – it hurts mostly people who belong to minority groups.


Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services
Last updated March 2013


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What are my rights after the employer gets my CORI?

 

After the employer gets a copy your CORI or criminal background report, the employer can ask about the report only if he or she gives you a copy of it before asking any questions.

Along with the copy, you should get a copy of the DCJIS instructions for fixing mistakes on the report.

You should review the CORI carefully so you can correct any mistakes. Remember, most employers only get information about convictions. If you have dismissed cases, there is no need to tell the employer about cases that are not on the CORI.

If the employer asks you about a conviction that is not sealed (and it is not listed in mistake on your CORI), this may be a good time to explain how the case does not reflect who you are as a person. If your CORI is stale or has nothing to do with the job, you can explain that to the employer. If you have convictions, it is a good idea to have lots of letters of recommendation. See a sample “changed person” letter.

What rights do I have if I am rejected because of my CORI?

If an employer rejects you for a job because of your criminal record, he or she must give you a copy of the CORI or other criminal background report that was used and a chance to respond. If your CORI has errors, is old or has nothing to do with the job, you should explain that as best as you can to the employer. If you have letters of recommendations, you should point that out.

If the employer never hires anyone with a record, you might talk to or file a complaint with the EEOC. See Can an employer refuse to hire any employees with criminal records?


Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services
Created March 2013


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Can anyone help me find a job?

 

If you have a criminal record, these programs may help you find a job or get training you need:

Boston Staffing Alliance
(617) 606-3581

One-Stop Career Centers across Massachusetts

Strive
150 Forsyth Street
Boston, MA 02115
617-437-1441

EPOCA
4 King Street
Worcester, MA 01610
508-410-7676

SPAN
105 Chauncy Street
Boston, MA 02111
617-423-0750

Other Career Centers

 


Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services
Last updated March 2013


Feedback

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CORI Alerts!

More information

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CORI Alerts!

More information

Ask a Law Librarian

If it's
Monday-Friday
between
9am and 4pm