Archives for December 2010

New Law Limits Employer Inquiries on Criminal Records

Refusing to hire job applicants with criminal records just got a little trickier. As of November 2010, most employers are no longer permitted to ask criminal history questions on written job applications. The practice of reviewing such information and screening out former criminals from interviews has thus been rendered illegal. Because it is unclear whether the statutory amendments to the Criminal Offender Record Information law (CORI) also limit criminal history inquiries at the interview stage, it makes sense to avoid such questions, at least for the time being. Employers can still obtain criminal histories later on and reject applicants based on those histories.

The law’s changes will likely add costs to employers who prefer not to hire convicted felons or other persons with criminal backgrounds. In addition to forcing them to interview candidates blindly, as it were, the CORI law amendments restrict available information to felony records open during the prior 10 years and misdemeanors in the prior 5. When such records are obtained from the CORI system, employers now must show them to prospective employees before an adverse decision is made. Employees can hold employers to this obligation via new rights to obtain their own list of employers who made inquiries about them.

Employers who regularly obtain CORI records must also create policies regarding them. The policies must provide for notifying applicants, giving a copy of CORI records to subjects, and instructing subjects on how to correct any errors in those records. Policies should also provide for the destruction of CORI records within 10 years.