Effective May 4, 2012, the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) Reform Act (the Act), which was enacted in August 2010 with the controversial “ban the box” legislation, will significantly change the way employers access, use, and maintain information obtained through the Commonwealth’s CORI system. The Act will allow all employers access to a new online records system, but also imposes obligations on employers that acquire criminal history information from private sources, such as consumer reporting agencies (background report vendors). Employers should review their hiring and background check policies now to determine whether any updates are necessary.
Articles About Massachusetts Labor and Employment Law.
In a case of first impression, a Massachusetts Superior Court judge recently held that an employer may adopt a policy prohibiting employees from accepting tips from customers without violating the Massachusetts Tips Law. Any such policy, however, must clearly and conspicuously be announced to customers, such that a reasonable customer would understand that any money left by the customer would not be given to employees as a tip.
Thirty-nine percent of data breaches in the U.S. happened to businesses while the data was in the hands of third-party vendors, according to the 2010 Annual Study of the Ponemon Institute.
On November 23, 2011, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick signed into law the “Gender Identity Bill.” This makes Massachusetts the 16th state â€“ along with California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Oregon, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia â€“ to provide some level of protection to employees based on gender identity and/or expression.
The federal appeals court in Boston has underscored the importance of carefully examining and understanding restrictive covenants, such as non-competes and non-solicitation agreements, that may be acquired in a business purchase. The Court found a one-year non-compete clause in a restrictive covenant agreement expired and unenforceable against former employees when it was sought to be invoked more than one year following the sale of the company that had entered into the agreements with them. OfficeMax, Inc. v. Levesque, 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 18816 (1st Cir. Sept. 12, 2011). Accordingly, the Court refused to enforce the District Courtâ€™s preliminary injunction restricting the former employees from competing with OfficeMax, an office supplies company that bought the assets of Boise Cascade Office Products Corp. (BCOP), another office supply company.
Massachusetts’ new law on criminal offender record information (“CORI”) bans the use of questions about criminal history on an “initial written application” for employment. This ban became effective November 4, 2010. The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), charged with enforcement, has issued a Fact Sheet on how it intends to enforce the law. While the Fact Sheet does not have the force of a regulation or law, it provides valuable guidance for employers.
The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office has updated its earlier position communicated to Jackson Lewis and has informed Jackson Lewis that it will “probably” issue a guidance document about the amendment to the Massachusetts Personnel Records Statute. According to an official in the Attorney General’s Office familiar with the matter, “all options are on the table,” including a “clarification [or] advisory.” The Attorney General’s Office has no timeline for issuing its explanatory document, we were told.
Despite requests by several law firms, the Massachusetts Attorney General has decided not to issue an interpretive guidance or other interpretive aid for a broadly worded amendment to the Massachusetts Personnel Records statute that places an affirmative duty on employers to notify employees when adding new information to a “personnel record” that could negatively affect the employee’s employment or lead to disciplinary action.