Jobs and CORI

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Greater Boston Legal Services
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When you first apply for a job, it is illegal for many employers to ask about your criminal records (CORI) on the first form you fill out. This is sometimes called "Ban the Box." Later on, the employer can ask you about your CORI.

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How can employers get a copy of my CORI?

Employers can only get a copy of your CORI if you allow them to. They must give you a CORI Acknowledgment form to sign. The form asks for your personal information:

  • full name,
  • birthday,
  • place you were born,
  • mother’s maiden name - the name she had when she was born,
  • father’s name, and
  • social security number.

This information helps make sure it is your CORI the employer will get.

Important 

It is illegal for employers to ask you for a copy of your own CORI for them. They must get their own copy from the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services DCJIS.

The copy the employer gets is different from the report you get: 

  • The CORI report you get lists all your cases. Your report includes cases that were dismissed or cases where you were found not guilty.
  • The CORI report many employers get lists your open cases and cases that ended in a conviction. Convictions are cases where you were found guilty. Cases that are "open" have not been decided yet.
Is there anything employers are not allowed to ask about my criminal history before they hire me?

Yes. Most employers cannot ask you about your sealed criminal records.

If your records are not sealed, most employers are also not allowed to ask you about:

  • Any case that did not end in a conviction.
  • An arrest that did not end in a conviction. 
  • A first-time conviction for drunkenness, affray or simple assault.
  • Minor traffic violations, affray, fighting or disturbing the peace.
  • A conviction for a misdemeanor that was 3 or more years ago.
  • A juvenile court case. Employers can only ask you about the juvenile court case if:
    • the case was tried in an adult court and
    • you were convicted as an adult.
  • A case that is sealed or expunged.
What can employers ask about my criminal history before they hire me?

Employers cannot ask you about your CORI on the first job application you fill out.

But after you apply, employers can ask you:

  • If you were ever found guilty of a felony.
  • About any misdemeanor conviction from less than 5 years ago.

Important 

You do not have to let employers know about any sealed or expunged convictions. If all your cases are sealed, you can answer “I have no record.”

What shows up on the CORI employers see?

Many employers get a CORI that shows only convictions and cases that are open.

As of October 13 2018, you can seal most misdemeanors after a 3 year waiting period and most felony cases after a 7 year waiting period.

If you have any convictions or other cases that are old enough to seal, but you have not sealed them, the cases will be held back from CORI given to landlords, and many employers.

If you have any cases that you could have sealed by mail, they will not show up on your CORI.

Important 

Most of the time, you still need to seal your criminal cases.

  • If you do not get the cases sealed, many employers can still see old convictions and cases that were dismissed, or ended in a nolle prosequi - when the prosecutor dropped the case, or a not guilty finding. Examples are schools, camps, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities.
  • If you have a recent conviction or you get convicted in the future, an employer or landlord can see all your past and present convictions that are not sealed.
  • If you do not get murder or manslaughter convictions and some sex offense convictions sealed, they will show up forever. It does not matter how old the convictions are.

If your cases are sealed, most employers will not see your cases on the CORI.

But the Department of Early Education and Care screens people for daycare and other jobs involving very young children. They can see all CORI including sealed cases. If you apply to be a foster parent or try to adopt, the Department of Children & Families or the Department of Youth Services can see all CORI including sealed cases.

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Help with CORI sealing
Cori - resources to get help with CORI sealing

Use the Legal Resource Finder to find free legal help to seal your CORI, including CORI sealing clinics on Zoom.

 

Learn more about CORI
CORI - more info box

Download self-help booklets about CORI, including CORI sealing, prepared by Greater Boston Legal Services.

The Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services has information, links to CORI forms, and more.

 

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