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I trying to find a new job in Massachusetts but I have a six year old conviction for a misdemeanor assault charge that I ended up getting fined for. Can an employer consider that or use it against me when they decide to hire me or not? I have not been in any other trouble with the law before or after that, in Massachusetts or anywhere else.

 
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Editor's Response

No, your potential employers should not consider that conviction in its decision making process.  Have a look at Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 151B (Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act), section 4 makes it unlawful:

For an employer, himself or through his agent, in connection with an application for employment, or the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, or the transfer, promotion, bonding, or discharge of any person, or in any other matter relating to the employment of any person, to request any information, to make or keep a record of such information, to use any form of application or application blank which requests such information, or to exclude, limit or otherwise discriminate against any person by reason of his or her failure to furnish such information through a written application or oral inquiry or otherwise regarding: (i) an arrest, detention, or disposition regarding any violation of law in which no conviction resulted, or (ii) a first conviction for any of the following misdemeanors: drunkenness, simple assault, speeding, minor traffic violations, affray, or disturbance of the peace, or (iii) any conviction of a misdemeanor where the date of such conviction or the completion of any period of incarceration resulting therefrom, whichever date is later, occurred five or more years prior to the date of such application for employment or such request for information, unless such person has been convicted of any offense within five years immediately preceding the date of such application for employment or such request for information.

The Employment Practices Act applies to government agencies and private employers with 6 or more employees.  Hope that helps.  For more general information, visit our Massachusetts Employment Law Discussion Forum.  Good luck.

 

Update re criminal records on job applications

Starting in November of 2010, the new Massachusetts Criminal Records Reform Act overhauls the current Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) law.  Among other things, the Act prohibits employers from asking any questions on initial job applications about the applicant's criminal record.  So, for example, employers may not ask:  "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" 

Employers can still obtain criminal histories of job applicants from the CORI database, but those records will no longer contain certain information, including: (1) Felony convictions that were closed for more than ten years (regardless of whether the convictions occurred more than ten years ago or the applicants were released more than ten years ago), (2) Misdemeanor convictions closed for more than five years. 

The Act also places some fairly strict burdens on employers by, for example, requiring Employers that decide not to hire an applicant based on criminal history in a CORI report to give the applicant a copy of the report. Also, if an employer conducts five or more criminal background checks per year, it must create and maintain a written criminal offender record information policy.  Clearly, the Act will require Massachusetts employers to review their hiring policies with a qualified MA employment law attorney.  For more information, you can review the Act

 

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