The Law @ Work

Fingerprint Checks Now Mandatory for Human Service Agencies and Their Transportation Services

by Susan G. Fentin

Here’s a reminder for Human Service Agencies who are licensed, funded, or approved by the Department of Developmental Services or who provide transportation on behalf of any programs that are licensed, funded, or approved by DDS:  All new applicants for full-or part-time work must go through the Statewide Applicant Fingerprint Identification Services (“SAFIS”) Program.  Both Massachusetts and federal law require prospective employees of these agencies to undergo fingerprint-based background checks.  This includes any interns, transportation providers, volunteers, or sub-contractors who may have direct and unmonitored contact with individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  Applicants must register for an appointment via the IdentoGO™ by MorphoTrust USA registration system.  Fingerprints are captured and submitted electronically for processing by the Massachusetts State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Applicants who have satisfactorily completed a CORI check may be hired prior to completing this fingerprint check, but may not have unsupervised contact until after the results of the national fingerprint check has been completed.

Results of the fingerprint check will be reviewed by the DDS Background Record Check Unit (BRCU), which will determine whether the individual is suitable for unsupervised contact by applying the standards in the state CORI regulations.   The BRCU will notify the agency of its determination, and if the BRCU determines that the applicant is not suitable for employment, it will provide the applicant with a copy of the report together with contact information to be used if the applicant wishes to challenge the report for accuracy or relevancy.

The DDS has published a registration guide for employers who are obligated to fulfill this requirement.   Ultimately, current employees of covered agencies will also be required to submit to fingerprint checks, but DDS has not identified a date for the implementation of that requirement.

Remember that, under the American with Disabilities Act, if you are going to require a pre-employment physical, it must be the very last step in the application process.  So employers cannot require an applicant to take a pre-employment physical until after the fingerprint check has been completed.

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