Our state has a database of criminal records that are accessible by potential employers in some cases. It is called the Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) system. Last week, the Department of Criminal Justice Information Services (DCJIS) amended CORI regulations. In this post, we will discuss the recent changes.
What is CORI?
In 2012, the DCJIS allowed public employers to view some information regarding applicants’ criminal background using CORI records and dubbed it the iCORI system. Employers, referred to as iCORI users, were permitted to view crimes investigated and prosecuted by the Commonwealth but do not include information related to federal crimes or crimes committed in other states.
1. Criminal records held by courts are not CORI.
Because “Criminal Offender Record Information” was not clearly defined originally, the DCJIS has clarified that the iCORI system excludes criminal information held by courts, as opposed to those recorded by the state.
2. The definition of “employees” is expanded.
Under the new regulations, iCORI users can now request background information on volunteers, subcontractors, contractors, vendors, and special state, county and municipal employees.
3. Employers must inform applicants/employees which criminal actions motivate adverse-action.
In the old iCORI system, employers were required to inform the employee that they would not be hired or would be fired due to information available in their criminal history, but were not required to specify which conviction it was. Now they do.
4. Requests for consent of background checks are reduced.
Under the previous guidelines, an employer must ask the employee in question for permission to access their CORI. Once granted, the employer could access CORI for one year, but they needed consent from the employee each time they wished to access it. The new rule lets the employer access iCORI whenever they want to during the one-year period without asking permission from the employee each time. Once the year has lapsed, they must request permission again.
5. Employers must now sign & adhere to an iCORI agency agreement.
For employers who wish to use the iCORI system on an ongoing basis, the new rules require them to sign an agreement pledging the following:
(1) certify ongoing compliance with CORI laws and regulations; (2) maintain an up-to-date “need to know” list of employees who will request and review CORI; (3) confirm that the employer will only request an authorized level of CORI access; and (4) acknowledge that the employer (including individual users of the account) may be liable for violations of the rules and regulations.
6. CORI can now be stored in the cloud.
The old regulations required employers to encrypt and password-protect digital copies and store physical copies under lock and key. Now, employers can store them in the cloud, under the following conditions:
(1) have a written agreement with the cloud storage provider setting forth the minimum security requirements published by the DCJIS; and (2) ensure the cloud method provides encryption and password protection of all CORI.
Keeping You Informed
It is our job at Thomas Whitney Attorney at Law to stay abreast of pertinent information regarding criminal defense and the justice system. If you have questions regarding your criminal record and your rights, contact our Amherst office today at (413) 256-6234.