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Is it hard to get a human services job if I have CORI?

Produced by Greater Boston Legal Services adapted from Western Massachusetts Legal Services
Reviewed January, 2008

Yes. The Executive Office of Health & Human Services (EOHHS) is in charge of the state’s health and human services agencies.

It has rules about hiring employees who have CORI. EOHHS agencies hire people to work with the public. The public includes children, the elderly and other “vulnerable populations” who need special protection. EOHHS agencies must check CORI.

The CORI rules protect the public and still give people with criminal records a fair chance at getting a job. These rules also allow agencies to check CORI on people who already work for them.

Some of the most important rules are:

  • Employers may not ask you about criminal records on the job application.
  • Employers may not ask you to get a copy of your own CORI.
  • Employers can ask you to give them permission to get a copy of a CORI or criminal background report AFTER they find you qualified for the job.
  • If CORI shows there is a warrant for your arrest, employers must tell you that they cannot hire you until the warrant is cleared up.
  • Before rejecting you for a job because of CORI or some other criminal background report, the employer must:
    • Give you a copy of the report they used;
    • Give you information about how to fix any mistakes on the report;
    • Give a you a chance to point out mistakes on the report;
    • Tell you which parts of the report are the reason for not hiring you; and
    • Give a you a chance to to explain why the CORI or report has nothing to do with the job or should not be used against you;
  • The agency might offer you a job, even if you have a conviction, but not all convictions are treated the same. A conviction is a case where you were found guilty of a crime. If the case was serious or recent enough, EOHHS can stop the agency from hiring you.
  • Employers must follow special hiring rules if you have a pending case or conviction for:
    • a “Table A” crime at any time, or
    • a felony conviction for a “Table B crime that is less than 10 years old, or
    • a “Table B misdemeanor conviction that is less than 5 years old.
      • Table A pending cases or convictions include: murder, manslaughter, rape, indecent assault and battery, failure to register as a sex offender, identity fraud, home invasion, armed robbery, assault and battery on a child, elderly or disabled person, restraining order violations, stalking, or drug trafficking.
      • Table B pending cases or convictions include: disorderly conduct, affray, assault and battery on a person who is not a child, elderly or disabled, drug possession or drug distribution (selling smaller amounts than for trafficking), breaking and entering, larceny, unarmed robbery, unlawful possession of a gun, and assault and battery on a person who is not a child, elderly, or disabled
    • Find more about Table A and Table B crimes in the crime tables online.
  • The special hiring rules that employers must use include “careful consideration” of:

    (a) time passed since the conviction or pending case;

    (b) your age at the time of the crime;

    (c) the kind of crime and what was going on at the time;

    (d) the punishment for the crime and how long you were in jail or prison;

    (e) any connection between the crime and the kind of work you applied for;

    (f) the number of convictions or pending cases you have;

    (g) were your cases because of drugs or alcohol from which you are now recovered;

    (h) proof you can give the employer to show you are rehabilitated - like obeying all court orders connected with parole or probation, obeying no contact orders with all victims and witnesses; and good things you have done since the case was filed -- going to school, getting a degree, diploma or professional certificate; and

    (i) any ‘other relevant information,’’ including volunteer work, graduation or completion of drug, alcohol or anger management programs, and other success in treatment, counseling or training programs.

  • Employers must keep records that explain the reasons they hired or did not hire you. The records must also show they considered all these factors.


The employer will not consider or use the conviction against you if:

  • you have a felony conviction for
    a Table B conviction that is more than 10 years old, or
  • a Table B conviction for a misdemeanor more than 5 years old, and
  • you have no convictions after any of these convictions.

If you think the employer made an unfair decision or the employer would like to hire you, but they think they cannot, call your local legal aid program.

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