Background Check Policy

In compliance with the Board of Regents Policy the information below is the Valdosta State University Background Investigations Policy and Procedure, Valdosta State clarifications added in italics.

BOARD OF REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY SYSTEM OF GEORGIA

BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION POLICY & PROCEDURE

Background Investigation Policy:

It shall be a condition of employment with any institution of the University System of Georgia to submit to a background investigation.  Offers of employment shall be conditional pending the result of the background investigation, which shall include, at a minimum, the following: 

  • A state and federal criminal history check covering a minimum of seven (7) years;

    Felony convictions will be considered without time limits, misdemeanors will be considered for seven (7) years.

  • A nationwide sex offender search;

  • A social security number check; and

  • For all professional, faculty and academic positions, an academic credentials check.

  • For positions which use a Purchasing Card a credit check and criminal investigation check will be conducted.

  • For positions which involve fiscal responsibility a credit check will be conducted.

 

Offers of employment for sensitive positions may be conditional pending the result of a state and federal criminal history check covering more than the minimum of seven (7) years.  Sensitive Positions are those that involve interaction with children, after-hours access to facilities, access to financial resources or that have been otherwise identified by the hiring official to require a more extensive background investigation.Valdosta State University defines all benefited positions at the university as sensitive positions and requires background checks on all new hires.

A background investigation shall also be performed on any existing employee being transferred, reclassified or promoted.(updated 4/2/08)

An institution of the University System of Georgia may elect to perform reference checks and/or background investigations on part-time, student or temporary employees.

A BI will be required for all employees, temporary; faculty; and staff. A BI is required for student employees, including graduate students identified in sensitive positions.  All employees, who have not had a previous BI within one year, returning to work after a termination period of 45 days or more, will have to undergo a BI. As per procedure, promotions and reclasses require a new BI if current BI is older than one year.

 

Background Investigation Procedure:

Definitions:

Background Investigation – An investigation comprised of a criminal background check (including social security number check and, for positions with access to or responsibility for money, a credit check.), confirmation of credentials and confirmation of employment history.

Background Investigation Committee Review (BIC) – The administrative committee charged with determining questions of suitability of hire.  Each institution of the University System of Georgia shall form such a committee.  It is suggested that such committee have a minimum of three members  and not more than five members and include a representative from Human Resources and Employee Development, the applicable Hiring Department, The Office of Legal Affairs and the University Police Department

Consent Form – A form authorizing the institution to conduct a criminal background check.  All employment finalists and promotion candidates at the institution are required to sign a Consent Form to be considered for employment with the University.

Hiring Department – The department hiring a new employee (whether internally or externally), or promoting an existing employee.

(Human Resources and Employee Development– The institution’s employment office that handles all new hires at the institution.

 

Determining Employment Eligibility for Applicants with Criminal History

Only criminal convictions may be considered when determining a candidate’s eligibility for a specific position or employment as a whole. Detention and/or arrest without conviction do not constitute valid grounds for adverse employment decisions and do not play a part in the decision-making process. However, if an individual has a criminal case pending, his or her suitability for continued employment will be reviewed upon disposition of the case.

  1. Felony convictions automatically disqualify an individual for employment with the University System of Georgia (Board of Regents Policy Manual §II (B)(2)(d)).

    This criminal conviction history includes all felony convictions, without a time limitation, and misdemeanor convictions within the last seven years.

  2. Failing to disclose a criminal conviction history where required in employment application materials will disqualify a candidate for employment with an institution of the University System of Georgia.
  3. When determining whether a candidate with disclosed misdemeanor convictions is eligible for employment or promotion, the Background Investigation Committee will consider the specific responsibilities of the position for which the candidate is being considered, the nature, number and gravity of crimes for which the candidate was convicted and the amount of time that has passed since the conviction.  A determination of ineligibility for a specific position as the result of a misdemeanor criminal background does not necessarily mean that an individual is ineligible for all employment with the institution and each such determination will be made on a case by case basis.

 

Process for Conducting Background Investigation

Notice should be included in all job postings that finalists will be required to submit to a background investigation.  The institution shall set guidelines for assigning the cost of performing a background investigation.

In recruitment searches that involve the appointment of faculty, Academic Affairs will coordinate BI activities with a the University Police Department.

The Hiring Department is responsible for confirming the employment history and credentials of an applicant before having Human Resources and Employee Development initiate the Background Investigation and before extending an offer of employment.  Human Resources and Employee Development shall give the Hiring Department all required employment paperwork, including the Consent Forms, to be given to the final candidate. With respect to the promotion of existing employees, the institution shall implement a procedure for obtaining the Consent Form from the employee prior to initiating the Background Investigation.

Background Investigations will not be done for faculty promotions from one faculty rank to another faculty rank.  The University reserves the right to conduct a Background Investigation at any time on an employee should the need evolve relative to an internal investigation or other related matter.

A conditional offer of employment/promotion may be made at this time.  Important:  All offers of employment must be made in writing and must include the following statement: “This offer of employment is contingent upon completion of a background investigation including a criminal background check demonstrating your eligibility for employment with [the institution], as determined by [the institution] in its sole discretion, confirmation of the credentials and employment history reflected in your application materials and, if applicable, a satisfactory credit check.”

This statement will also be added to all postings.

Upon receipt of a signed Consent Form of the Hiring Department’s selected candidate, Human Resources and Employee Development, will initiate the Background Investigation into that candidate.  If the top candidate is not hired for the involved position (e.g. felony conviction precludes hiring, other criminal convictions render applicant ineligible for the specific position, candidate does not accept the job offer, etc.), the Hiring Department may select another candidate for the position.  If the candidate next selected for the position has already singed the Consent Form, then Human Resources and Employee Development will immediately initiate the investigation process.  If the next applicant identified as the Hiring Department’s top candidate has not signed a Consent Form, then Human Resources and Employee Development, will initiate the Background Investigation as soon as the Hiring Department submits a signed Consent Form.

Human Resources working with the Hiring Authority may acquire consent forms on all candidates selected for final interviews.

 

How Criminal Background Check Information is Processed:

Background Investigation reports are submitted directly to Human Resources and Employee Development, by the entity performing the investigation.  The Board of Regents has entered into an agreement with Choice Point WorkPlace Solutions, Inc. (“Choice Point”) to provide background investigation.  Each institution may elect to utilize Choice Point pursuant to this agreement or utilize another vendor selected by the institution.  Valdosta State University is currently utilizing the University Police Department until a decision is reached regarding an outside vendor. The BIC is responsible for determining the eligibility of the selected candidate for employment with the institution if the background investigation discloses misdemeanor convictions. Human Resources and Employee Development should notify the Hiring Department of this determination.  The BIC makes its decision about the selected candidate’s eligibility as follows:

The Background Investigation report shows no convictions: the selected candidate is eligible for employment.

The Background Investigation report shows one or more felony convictions: the selected candidate is ineligible for employment with the institution.

Prior to making this final determination, Human Resources and Employee Development must give a pre-adverse action disclosure to the candidate.  This pre-adverse action disclosure must include a copy of the candidate’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the company that conducted the Background Investigation, and information on how to dispute information in the report.  A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” must also be provided to the candidate.  This summary will be typically provided by the company performing the Background Investigation.

The candidate must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three days) to provide an explanation in writing of the circumstances surrounding the results of the Background Investigation, including any mitigating factors, and have this explanation considered prior to the finalization of the hiring decision.

If the candidate successfully shows that s/he has no felony convictions, then the candidate shall be eligible for employment. Human Resources and Employee Development will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.

If the candidate is unsuccessful in showing no felony convictions, then the candidate is ineligible for employment.  An adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate. This notice must include:

the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;

a statement that the company that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and

a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days.

Ineligible background check documentation will be kept for two years.

The Background Investigation report shows one or more misdemeanor convictions: 

The misdemeanor convictions were all disclosed by the selected candidate in the application materials.  The BIC will determine whether the candidate is eligible for the involved position based on the job description and the nature of the crimes for which the candidate was convicted.

  • If the BIC determines the candidate is eligible, then Human Resources and Employee Development will so notify the Hiring Department.

  • If the BIC determines the candidate is not eligible, then prior to making this final determination, the Hiring Office, Human Resources and Employee Development, must give a pre-adverse action disclosure to the candidate.

    • This pre-adverse action disclosure must include a copy of the candidate’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the company that conducted the Background Investigation, and information on how to dispute information in the report.  A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” must also be provided to the candidate.  This summary will be typically provided by the company performing the Background Investigation.  

    • The candidate must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three days) to provide an explanation in writing of the circumstances surrounding the results of the Background Investigation, including any mitigating factors, and have this explanation considered prior to the finalization of the hiring decision.

    •  If the candidate successfully shows that s/he does not have the misdemeanor  convictions that led the BIC to determine that the candidate was ineligible for employment, then the candidate shall be eligible for employment. Human Resources and Employee Development, will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.  

    • If the candidate is unsuccessful in showing that s/he does not have the misdemeanor convictions that led the BIC to determine that the candidate was ineligible for employment, then the candidate is ineligible for employment.  An adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate.  This notice must include:

      • the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;

      • a statement that the company that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and

      • a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days.

The misdemeanor convictions were not disclosed by the selected candidate in the application materials.  Human Resources and Employee Development will notify the candidate in writing that the Background Investigation revealed misdemeanor convictions not disclosed in his/her application materials and that s/he will removed from consideration for the involved position due to misrepresentation and falsifying application materials unless s/he contacts Human Resources and Employee Development and corrects any inaccuracies contained in the report within a minimum of three (3) days.  This notification will be accompanied by a pre-adverse action disclosure

  • The pre-adverse disclosure must include a copy of the candidate’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the company that conducted the Background Investigation, and information on how to dispute the information in the report.  A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” must also be provided to the candidate.  This summary will be typically provided by the company performing the Background Investigation.

  • The candidate must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three days) to provide an explanation in writing of the circumstances surrounding the results of the Background Investigation, including any mitigating factors, and have this explanation considered prior to the finalization of the hiring decision.

  • If the candidate successfully shows that s/he has no misdemeanor conviction, then the candidate shall be eligible for employment.  Human Resources and Employee Development will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.

  • If the candidate is unsuccessful in showing no misdemeanor convictions, then the candidate is ineligible for employment due to misrepresentation and falsifying application materials.  An adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate.  This notice must include:

    • the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;

    • a statement that the company that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and

    • a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days.

 

Maintenance of Background Investigation Reports

Background Investigation reports should be delivered directly to Human Resources and Employee Development, by the entity performing the investigation.  The report will remain with Human Resources and Employee Development, until the determination on employment eligibility has been made and then stored segregated from the employee’s personnel file.  The report itself is not provided to nor maintained by the Hiring Department.

Reports on all non-successful applicants must be discarded in accordance with USG Record Retention Guidelines.

A copy of his or her report shall be given to each applicant.

 

Arrests and Convictions

Any current employee who charged with a crime (other than a minor traffic offense) shall report being charged with such crime to Human Resources and Employee Development/ Academic Affairs where applicable within 72 hours of the employee becoming aware of such charge.  Failure to report being charged with such a crime may result in appropriate disciplinary action, including termination of employment.  Human Resources and Employee Development in concert with the Office of Legal Affairs and representatives of Academic Affairs, if applicable shall review the nature of the crime and make a determination on what, if any, action should be taken regarding the employee’s employment status until resolution of the charge.

Any current employee who is convicted of a crime (other than a minor traffic offense) shall report such conviction to Human Resources and Employee Development, within 24 hours of the conviction.  Failure to report such conviction may result in appropriate disciplinary action, including termination of employment.  The Human Resources and Employee Development in concert with the Office of Legal Affairs and representatives of Academic Affairs, if applicable shall review the nature of the crime and make a determination on what, if any, action should be taken regarding the employee’s employment status.  The Human Resources and Employee Development in concert with the Office of Legal Affairs and representatives of Academic Affairs, if applicable shall review the crime utilizing the same standards as it applies in reviewing crimes committed by a candidate for employment but may consider other factors, including the length of employment of the employee and performance reviews.

 

July 1, 2007