Each Day, A little Bit Harder

Every day, the government makes it a little bit harder to run a business.  Today's water drop in the ongoing Chinese water torture comes from TJIC up in Massachusetts

Governor Deval Patrick, returning to one of the more contentious
issues of his campaign, has begun quietly putting together a plan to
limit employers' access to the criminal records of potential employees.

Aides have been meeting with lawmakers and advocates working
to limit the scope of the Criminal Offender Record Information law,
which gives many employers broad access to criminal records. Activists
argue that many applicants are rejected for jobs based on minor
criminal convictions, crimes unrelated to the post"¦

Somehow, they are going to do this:

Patrick has not yet settled on specific legislation, an aide said, but
wants to give employers access only to criminal information that is
relevant to the job being sought.

Let me ask you readers a question:  If a company hires an employee with a criminal background who then does harm to someone (say a customer or another employee) in the workplace, who get's sued:

  1. The employee, who is held individually responsible for his own actions
  2. The employer, who hired the employee in good faith but was not able to get a reference (because lawsuits have pretty much ended the practice of giving honest information about ex-employees) and was not able to do a background check (because the government would no longer share criminal records)

If you answered "1", then you either have been in cryogenic sleep for 30 years or you have never run a business.  No hope, I suppose, of tying liability protection for employers to this legislation, I guess.

By the way, the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the war on drugs.  I am sure the concern here is that more and more white collar workers are saddled with petty drug convictions that are hurting their ability to get jobs.  I would have not problem wiping all the drug possession offenses off the record, particularly since I don't think these possession offenses should be crimes anyway.

Update: From the indispensable Overlawyered.com