Employment Background Screening
Administering Office: Human Resources
Approved by: Executive Council - May 14, 2007
Posted: June 27, 2007
Effective Date: July 1, 2007
Technical Changes March 13, 2017
In order to provide a safe and secure environment for all employees, students and
visitors, Western Carolina University (WCU) needs to ensure that it is employing individuals
who make this environment possible. Various background checks can assist WCU in making
employment decisions that meet this important need.
It is the policy of WCU to conduct state and federal criminal background checks for
all final candidates for all SHRA, EHRA Faculty, EHRA Non-Teaching and temporary positions.
Criminal background checks will be initiated for all new hires and for internal movement
among positions, e.g., promotions, transfers, reassignments, etc. Other miscellaneous
employment changes may result in a background check. It is also the policy to conduct
credit checks and motor vehicle checks where financial issues or driving responsibilities
are a part of an employee’s job requirements.
III. SCOPE AND LIMITATIONS
WCU seeks information on convictions and all pleas that are acknowledgements of responsibility.
The existence of a conviction or plea is not an automatic exclusion from employment.
Where a finalist candidate does have a conviction or plea, the following factors will
assist WCU in determining suitability for employment: the nature of the crime, the
circumstances surrounding the crime, the current location of the victim if known,
the existence, number and type of other criminal convictions or pleas, the time that
has elapsed since the conviction, the actions and activities of the individual since
the crime, the rehabilitation record of the applicant, any related information and
the truthfulness of the applicant in disclosing the conviction or plea.
The criminal background check will be used solely for evaluating the applicant for
employment; it will not be used to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national
origin, religion, sex, age, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, genetic
information, veteran status, political affiliation, or disability.
The University reserves the right to conduct a criminal background check or other
background review for a current employee if circumstances indicate criminal activity
by this employee may have occurred.
In most cases, the criminal background check will be conducted prior to employment.
If circumstances prevent this pre-screening, the employment contract or documentation
must specify that continued employment is conditional upon an acceptable background
check and that the applicant waives any right to challenge this requirement. In such
cases, the check should be done as early as is feasible.
As part of the screening process, the applicant will be asked to provide information
about his or her criminal record. Having this information is critical and a failure
by the applicant to provide this data or to provide it accurately will result in a
rejection of the candidacy of this individual (or a withdrawal of an offer if the
applicant was hired subject to the background check). All material collected pursuant
to this policy will be held confidentially and securely within the Office of Human
Resources and will be maintained in a separate file from the regular files maintained
for employees and applicants.
IV. PROCEDURES AND FORMS
A. Communications with Applicant
Employment documents and material including vacancy listings, advertisements, website
announcements and employment applications will specify that a criminal background
report will be completed for individuals who are the final candidates for all position
vacancies at the University. This material will also state that credit reports and
driving record reports will be completed on final candidates for positions that have
financial issues or driving responsibilities as part of the job duties.
B. Communications with Employees
This policy on background checks will be communicated to all employees within a reasonable
time after its adoption.
C. Background Report Steps
1. Prior to requesting a consumer reporting agency (CRA) to conduct any criminal background
or credit checks, the University will complete the certification required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
2. Once a final candidate has been selected, he or she will be informed that a “Disclosure
and Authorization” form must be completed. (Attachment 1)
3. The “Disclosure and Authorization” form must specify that a criminal background
report or credit report will be requested and that a written consent must be obtained
from the applicant.
4. After the applicant has signed and returned the “Disclosure and Authorization”
form, the designated staff will initiate the process for the background check.
Post Report Procedure:
- After the report has been returned, HR will inform the hiring official of the report
result. The report will be carefully reviewed and if no adverse action is contemplated,
based on the report, the selection process for the candidate will proceed.
- If adverse action is probable based in whole or in part on the report, HR will notify
the candidate that such action is possible and that certain information will be provided.
The candidate will be provided with a copy of the criminal background check report
and a copy of the federal document summarizing the candidate’s rights. (Attachment 2)
- Before making a final decision on the candidacy, HR will give the candidate a ten
(10) day period to respond to or challenge the report.
- After the response period has passed, HR and the hiring official will consider the
factors listed below prior to a decision:
a. The nature of the particular job at issue, the duties to be performed, and contact
with employees, students and the public.
b. The nexus between the criminal conduct and the job duties of the position to be
c. The nature of the crime, its seriousness and future legal implications and current
location of the victim if known.
d. The date of the crime and age of the person at the time of the crime.
e. The circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime, if known.
f. The person’s personal situation at the time of the crime, if known.
g. The sanction or sentence imposed and compliance therewith.
h. Post-crime activities, positions, and circumstances.
i. Commission of other crimes and other instances of misconduct.
j. Rehabilitation record.
k. Present situation.
l. Present support system.|
m. Any professional opinions about possibility of future criminal behavior.
n. Responses provided by candidate during application process.
o. Explanations or descriptions provided by the candidate.
p. Response received after notice of possible adverse action.
5. After consideration of the above factors, HR and the hiring official will determine
whether to offer employment to the candidate upon final agreement of the respective
division head. If so, the regular hiring procedures will continue. If the decision
is to not offer employment to the candidate, HR will send a final decision letter
to the candidate entitled “Notice of Adverse Action”. This notice will inform the
candidate that no further consideration of this person will be taken and will also
include another copy of the summary of rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
6. Post-Check Procedures
A. The above steps should be documented accurately and completely.
B. All documents gathered and the explanatory documentation above should be maintained
confidentially and securely in the Office of Human Resources in a file separate from
the regular employment/applicant file.