As of November 4, 2010, Massachusetts employers are prohibited from asking about criminal records on the initial job application, except for positions for which a federal or state law, regulation or accreditation disqualifies an applicant based on a conviction, or if the employer is mandated by a federal or state law or regulation not to employ
individuals who have been convicted of a crime.
The new law also has two provisions that will become effective February 6, 2012. Under the first provision, an employer in possession of criminal record information must disclose that information to the applicant, prior to asking about it. And similar to the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, if an employer decides not to hire an
applicant in whole or in part because of the criminal record, the employer must provide the applicant with a copy of the record.
The second provision requires employers who conduct five or more criminal background investigations annually to implement and maintain a written criminal record information policy. The policy, at minimum, must specify procedures for (1) notifying applicants of the potential for an adverse decision based on the criminal record, (2) providing
a copy of the criminal record and the written policy to applicants, and (3) dispensing information to applicants about the process for correcting errors on their criminal record.
The law imposes penalties (including imprisonment for up to one year or a fine of up to $5,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a company) for those who request or require an applicant to provide a copy of his/her criminal record except under conditions authorized by law, and prohibits harassment of the subject of the criminal record (punishable by imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of not more than $5,000.)