Massachusetts Background Checks laws & HR compliance analysis

Massachusetts Background Checks: What you need to know

There are a number of ways for employers to gather information on the background of an applicant for employment. Employers may simply call an applicant's former employer to confirm the applicant's dates of employment and title and try to obtain a more detailed reference from a supervisor. However, more and more frequently, employers are hiring third parties to conduct background checks on applicants who have been offered employment. In addition, depending on the nature of the position, employers are requesting reports about an applicant's driving record, criminal record, and/or credit history. There are often legal limits on employers' obtaining and using this type of information. When employers hire a third party to conduct a background check or obtain reports from outside agencies, such reports are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and state laws. In Massachusetts, employers must comply with laws concerning consumer reports, criminal background checks, and driver's record information.
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In addition to FCRA, employers must comply with the Massachusetts statute regulating the use of consumer reports in employment (MA Gen. Laws Ch. 93 Sec. 50et seq.). The requirements for obtaining consumer reports under the Massachusetts statute are, for the most part, the same as the requirements under FCRA including that prior to procuring a consumer report, the employer must provide the employee with a clear and conspicuous written disclosure informing the employee that a consumer report may be obtained for employment purposes. Under the state law, the disclosure may be made in an employee manual or other publication provided to the employee. However, under FCRA, the ...

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