PRP 6210 - Background Investigation Policy
A primary responsibility of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania is to provide a safe and productive environment in which students, employees and visitors can learn, live and work. To this end, the University will attempt to obtain certain information about recommended candidates for employment to ensure a consistent level of background investigations for appointees for all positions at Bloomsburg University. Nothing herein is intended to contradict or lessen compliance with applicable federal and state laws or regulations.
This policy is established in accordance Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Board of Governors Policy 2009-01, Criminal Background Investigations.
This policy applies to all positions for instructional and non-instructional vacancies at the university.
This policy establishes a process for verifying information provided by applicants for employment including employment history, educational attainment, criminal history and related information such as confirmation of a professional license, or records of garnishment where bonding is a prerequisite to hiring.
This policy generally applies to external candidates identified for hire. The university reserves the right to conduct background checks for employees in positions which require background checks as a condition of continuing employment. If an employee leaves the university, that employee will be subject to a background check for rehire.
Individuals with roles identified below who receive background and criminal history information shall keep such information confidential. Information will be provided on a strict need-to-know basis and any discussions will be pertinent to the hiring process.
The following individuals have specific duties:
President and Vice Presidents
- To incorporate the requirements of this policy into the recruitment and selection process.
- To ensure compliance with this policy and relevant procedures.
- To assure consistent application of standards in decision making across the University relative to review of work history, educational history and criminal convictions.
- To notify job applicants of the requirements of this policy before and during the recruitment and selection process.
- To interpret criminal history information and recommend appropriate action to the President or appropriate Vice President.
The appropriate Vice President will evaluate the results of the background investigation. The Vice President may also consider information collected during the regular search process prior to approving the employment recommendation.
All advertisements for positions must contain the following statement: “Prior to a final offer of employment the selected candidate will be required to submit to a background check including, but not limited to, employment verification, educational and other credential verification and criminal background check.”
- All candidates for employment must complete and sign an employment application.
- The employment application is to contain a statement that the candidate’s signature authorizes the University to investigate all statements made on the application and permits the references and past employers to respond to questions concerning information contained in the application and concerning the candidate’s fitness for employment.
- All employment applications will contain the following criminal history section:
Successful applicants/candidates will be provided a verbal offer of employment and be advised that a background check must be successfully completed prior to the offer being confirmed by the University. The President’s Designee will verify the accuracy of the information provided by a candidate regarding employment history, educational attainment, criminal history and related information such as confirmation of a professional license, or records of garnishment where bonding is a prerequisite to hiring and other information that is directly related to the job.
Authorization to Conduct
All candidates must also execute an authorization that allows the University to request/conduct a Criminal Background Investigation. This authorization, mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be a document separate from the employment application. (A copy of this notice and authorization is attached hereto as Exhibit “A.”) Refusal to sign the authorization for the release of information will result in the candidate being eliminated and disqualified from the applicant pool.
Completion of Investigation
Background Investigations will be performed, through either a law enforcement agency or other third party. The investigation shall be initiated by the President or the Designee. The law enforcement agency or third party vendor will return a full report of the results of the Background Investigation obtained to the President or the President’s Designee.
Background Investigations shall be completed only on the successful candidate prior to employment. So as to not jeopardize successful completion of the search, candidates will be extended a verbal contingent offer prior to initiating the background investigation.
Results of Background Investigations obtained by any means must be kept confidential. The President shall designate a management level employee as the sole individual who will be responsible for initiating the Background Investigation and receiving its results. This Designee is not to share the results of a Background Investigation with anyone other than the President, Vice Presidents and legal counsel. Failure to abide by this policy may subject the Designee to discipline.
All records resulting from Background Investigations shall be kept separate from employee personnel files and shall not be accessible by supervisors and others who might otherwise have access to an individual’s personnel records, save the President, the Designee and legal counsel. If the individual is not appointed by the university, the documents will be destroyed at a time to be determined by legal counsel.
Information to be Evaluated
Appointing authorities shall not consider non-official accusations or arrests. Only felony and misdemeanor convictions may be considered by the President and only to the extent to which they relate to the applicant's suitability for employment in the position for which he/she has applied. The assessment is to be done in conjunction with legal counsel and should focus on the following factors:
- whether the candidate’s prior conviction undermines his/her suitability or fitness to perform the required job responsibilities;
- the time that has elapsed since the conviction;
- the nature and gravity of the criminal conviction; and
- evidence of rehabilitation
Prior to taking any adverse employment action based upon information contained in a Criminal Background Investigation prepared by a third party, the Designee will provide the candidate with a copy of the report and a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under The Fair Credit Reporting Act.” Upon receipt of the information, the candidate must be given a reasonable opportunity (at least five (5) business days) to submit information to the Designee disputing the accuracy and/or completeness of the report before a final employment decision can be made.
When issues are raised by a Background Investigation, the President, Vice President or the President’s Designee, in consultation with university counsel or the chief counsel, as appropriate, will evaluate their impact on the hiring decision consistent with applicable laws and this policy.
Fair Credit Reporting Act Requirements
If employment is denied, based in whole or in part on the results of the Background Investigation, the candidate must be provided with a notice that an adverse employment action has been taken based on information contained in a criminal background report. Said notice is to include the following:
- the reasons for the adverse employment action;
- the name, address, and toll free telephone number of the reporting agency that furnished the criminal background report;
- a statement that the reporting agency did not make the decision to take the adverse employment action and is unable to provide the candidate with the reasons as to why the adverse employment action was taken;
- notice of the candidate’s right to obtain a free copy of the investigation record report from the reporting agency; and notice of the candidate’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of the criminal background report within sixty (60) days.