MA State Laws for Dental Professionals
Board of Registration in Dentistry (BORID)
Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Act
Should you conduct a background or Criminal Offender Record Information Act (CORI) check on prospective employees? Dentists are not required under Massachusetts law to conduct CORI checks. Certain employers that deal with vulnerable populations or are required to conduct checks (e.g., nursing homes, schools, daycare centers, and hospitals) are required to do so. However, even employers that are not required to perform CORI checks on prospective employees, such as dentists, may do so.
The MDS Dental Practice Committee encourages members to consider incorporating CORI checks into their pre-hire screening process, but it is important that any such checks are carried out in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
In Massachusetts, an employer may not require any individual to provide a copy of his or her personal CORI. Accordingly, an employer conducting a CORI check must first obtain the candidate’s written consent using a CORI Acknowledgement Form. The candidate’s actual signature is required—an electronic signature will not suffice. If a candidate cannot appear in person to sign a CORI Acknowledgement Form, a notarized copy of the signed form will suffice. A completed CORI Acknowledgement Form is valid for one year. Within that year, an employer may conduct a new CORI check on that individual without obtaining a new CORI Acknowledgement Form, but only after giving 72 hours’ written notice to the subject of the CORI check.
An employer may obtain Massachusetts criminal offender record information by registering for an account with iCORI, an online service of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS). An iCORI user must complete an online training prior to using the system. Training materials are available here.
An employer that makes a CORI request is generally given access to information pertaining to pending criminal charges, felony or misdemeanor convictions, unsealed convictions, and murder, manslaughter, and sex offenses. More detailed information regarding the categories of information that may be obtained through a CORI request is available here.
Massachusetts law generally prohibits the dissemination of information gathered through a CORI request. An employer is, however, allowed to share CORI records with its personnel who need to know the information and may also be required to share CORI records with pertinent government agencies. In any event, an employer that obtains information through a CORI request must maintain a secondary dissemination log that contains identifying information of the subject, the name of every person to whom the information was disseminated, and the date and time of, and purpose for, the dissemination. This log must be maintained for at least 1 year from the date of dissemination, and may be audited by the DCJIS. Unless otherwise provided by law, an employer may not maintain a copy of CORI records for more than 7 years from the date of the last day of employment or service, or of the employment decision, whichever is later.
Every employer that conducts five or more criminal background checks in a year must maintain and implement a written CORI policy. The policy must address, among other topics, when and how CORI screening will be conducted, the procedure for maintaining CORI materials, the manner in which CORI will be used, and the procedure for correcting a CORI record. A model CORI policy, published by the DCJIS, is available here.
Finally, employers that rely on CORI as a basis for personnel decisions must ensure that their employment practices are consistent with Massachusetts CORI and anti-discrimination laws and regulations. An employer that makes an adverse decision on the basis of information obtained through a CORI request must provide the subject of the request with an opportunity to verify the accuracy of the CORI. Specifically, the employer must provide a copy of the CORI, information regarding which part of the CORI renders the individual ineligible for employment or service, a copy of the CORI policy, and information regarding the procedure for making corrections to a CORI. Employers must also provide an individual with a copy of the CORI prior to questioning the individual about it in connection with any employment decision. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in civil fines.