Opinion: Tightening Access to Criminal Records


By Brad McDougall

The Massachusetts Legislature recently passed a criminal-justice reform bill that narrows the ability of employers to research the criminal records of job applicants, but also provides legal protection from negligent-hiring claims to companies that are unable to view a sealed criminal record.

The state Senate and House of Representatives both passed the measure with overwhelming majorities. Gov. Charlie Baker must now decide to sign or veto it.

Inclusion of the negligent-hiring provision grew out of discussions brokered by Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM) last summer between sponsors of the bill and employers who rely upon criminal background checks through the state Criminal Offender Records Information (CORI) system. The provision protects employers that conduct background checks and end up hiring individuals with criminal records that are sealed, expunged, or no longer available to employers.

Continue reading.