Criminal Record Discrimination in the Workplace

Learn what activities in the workplace are considered discrimination based on your Criminal Record, and how we protect your rights.

It is illegal for an employer to ask certain questions about a job applicant's or employee's criminal record.

    The Law

    Employers may not ask about, maintain a record of, or base any employment decision on the following information if they have requested it.

    • Arrests or prosecution that did not lead to a conviction
    • A first conviction for drunkenness, simple assault, speeding, minor traffic violations, affray, or disturbance of the peace
    • Misdemeanors where the date of conviction or the end of any period of incarceration was more than five years ago, provided that there have been no subsequent convictions within those five years
    • Any record of a court appearance which has been sealed under state law
    • Anything pertaining to juvenile record, including delinquency and child in need of services complaints, unless the juvenile was tried as an adult in Superior Court

      An employer may not take action against an applicant or employee for answering an unlawful question untruthfully.

      It is also illegal for an employer to request from an applicant or employee a copy of a probation or arrest recordĀ or to ask for an application or employee to sign a release permitting access to such information.

      Employer Responsibilities

      It is lawful for an employer to ask:

      • Have you ever been convicted of a felony?
      • Within the last five years have you been convicted of, or released from incarceration for a misdemeanor which was not a first offense for drunkenness, simple assault, speeding, a minor traffic violation, an affray, or disturbing the peace?

      An employer that applies for and is granted access to criminal record information by the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board under the Criminal Record Information Act (CORI) may obtain some information on the criminal records of an applicant or employee.

      Access to information under CORI is limited to that which is necessary to perform the relevant criminal justice or statutory duties.

      Additional Resources for Employer Responsibilities

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