A Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check contains information about criminal cases that have been adjudicated by Massachusetts state courts. Although it doesn’t contain information on criminal cases from the court systems of other states or federal courts, this information is widely available through other databases, and prudent employers will not confine their background checks to one state’s database.
The intent of the CORI law is to protect various populations that are particularly vulnerable to caregiver or authority figure abuse. CORI background checks are generally requested on candidates applying for jobs with organizations where they could be expected to have “direct and unmonitored contact” with children, the elderly, or disabled individuals.
CORI took effect on June 30, 2005, but the law was subsequently revised, effective May 4, 2012, to amend provisions relative to the sealing of previous criminal records. The revisions allowed more prior offenders to seal their records, but they also gave access to unsealed records to a much wider audience. All employers were given standard access to records that reveal pending criminal charges, together with recent misdemeanors and felony convictions. Additionally, landlords were given the same level of standard access as employers. Perhaps more importantly, the general public was given limited access to CORI information on certain types of felony and misdemeanor convictions.
Job applicants must be informed that a CORI background check is being requested, and provide their consent by signing a release form. A CORI background check should be the last step in the pre-employment screening process for job applicants that are qualified for the position in all other respects. If an adverse decision is being contemplated, based on the results of the CORI screening, the job applicant must be provided with an opportunity to dispute the accuracy of the information and its relevance to the position for which they are applying. The applicant must be notified of the adverse action, and provided with a copy of their CORI background check, with the potentially disqualifying information highlighted.
CORI background check results must be kept in secure locations, separate from standard personnel records, to prevent unauthorized disclosure of CORI information. It can be retained for no more than three years before being destroyed. A new CORI check is required if the person remains employed in that organization after three years have passed. This ensures that information on potential criminal background is current and relevant.