Pre-Employment Background Check Procedures

Updated 3/2015

Pre-Employment Background Check Procedures

SCOPE

This Background Check procedure applies to new hires, as identified herein.

PROCEDURE STATEMENT

Structuring a safe environment in which learning can take place is a fundamental responsibility of all University faculty and staff.  One way for us to enhance security moving forward is to conduct background checks on most staff, faculty and select student employees (as described below):  

For covered positions, commencement of regular employment will be contingent upon the results of the background check process.  The finalist in the hiring process for regular faculty or staff positions (and select student and temporary positions) as well as regular volunteers will be subject to background checks performed by a third party vendor.  The applicant will be provided consent forms following a job offer, and before employment can start, and candidates must give the University permission to conduct background investigations as deemed necessary based on the position for which the candidate has applied.  Applicants who do not consent to a background check, or do not complete the required steps for a check to be conducted, will not be considered for employment.

Post-job offer, pre-employment/pre-placement background checks will be required for the following “covered employees”:

  • Prospective employees (“finalist” applicant) for all regular new hires
  • St. Lawrence employees moving from temporary to regular employment status; or being renewed in their temporary position
  • Non-SLU Student Interns
  • Regular Volunteers as presented to Human Resources
  • Select temporary employees (e.g., working in or with access to residence halls, adjunct faculty, or employment with responsibility for children ie; camp chipmunk, summer camps)
  • The University reserves the right to perform background checks for others whose primary responsibilities are or will be administrative.

Any job offer made to these applicants will be contingent on the satisfactory results of the background check. 

PROCESS

Applicants in covered positions will be advised that a third party background check, including criminal conviction investigation, is a condition of employment.  Background check procedures will be applied

when a search has determined a finalist to whom an offer of employment is ready to be made.  The University will engage a professional firm to complete the Background Check process to assure third-party confidentiality (Security and Safety Officers may be subject to additional checks).

The finalist, or individual recommended for hire, will be required to complete an authorization and the University’s authorized vendor will conduct the background check.  Oral and written offers will include a statement that the employment offer is pending the satisfactory completion of the background check for positions covered by this procedure.

Vendor background checks applicable to all covered positions   include the following screenings:                                  

  • Education & Professional Credentials Verification
  • Criminal Felony & Misdemeanor Conviction Search (in the last seven years)
  • Social Security Number Trace                                                   
  • National Sex Offender Search                                                  

 

*Select Temporary positions may not require the education check.

 

Select positions may require additional areas in a background check including:

 

  • Motor Vehicle Records Search (University Drivers and those designated with responsibilities to drive as part of their position requirements which checks might be performed by campus Safety and Security)

 

  • Credit History Report (normally at the VP level and/or positions with significant monetary responsibility)

Employment reference checks are handled as part of  the search process and not under this procedure.

Select senior level, vice president and president searches may include expanded background checks, and all or parts of the process will (or may be) managed by the Board of Trustees.

CONFIDENTIALITY

Criminal (including sex offender), Social Security and credit (where required) background check records will be received and maintained as part of a confidential file in Human Resources.  These records will be kept separate from an employee’s personnel file and access will be strictly limited within the  Human Resources Office, to the Vice President of Community and Employee Relations (who will only have access in the event of the unavailability of the Director of Human Resources) and the Review Committee, as provided in these procedures.  Applicant information is confidential, personal information, and all parties having access to this information will treat it as confidential.   Criminal history and other background records that are obtained by the University for the purpose of conducting background checks shall be used only as permitted by law. 

RESPONSIBILITY

Human Resources will monitor the hiring decisions made in such cases, for consistency.

Human Resources will coordinate the receipt and payment of any vendor fees through the Recruitment Budget.

PROCEDURE

All employees hired into covered positions shall have a post-offer background check, including criminal check, completed as a condition of employment with St. Lawrence University. The hire is contingent upon the results of the background check.  Postings, notices and/or the application for employment will contain the information that a background check may be required.

  1. Any oral offer and written letter generated will be contingent on successful background check.  When a finalist is selected, the hiring supervisor will notify the candidate of the following:
  • The job offer is contingent on the satisfactory results of a background check and a start date will be set when the pre-employment screening is complete and cleared.

 

  • Human Resources will provide the finalist with information about the University’s vendor’s disclosure and authorization forms and contact information by email which the finalist must review, complete and timely submit on-line to initiate the background check.

It will be helpful if the hiring manager can encourage the finalist to submit and complete the background check authorization forms promptly and notify Human Resources directly if the candidate does not receive the information to start the background check process, if the candidate is unable to complete the on-line authorization for any reason, or if the candidate has any questions about the process.

If the finalist does not have an email address, the hiring supervisor can direct them to contact the Human Resources office at 315-229-5596 to schedule a time to review and complete the form on-line in Human Resources.

  1. All written offers of employment shall include the following statement:  "This offer is contingent upon timely completion of the University's verification of credentials and other information included in the employment application materials, or required by state law and St. Lawrence University policies and procedures, including the completion of a criminal history check." 
  2. The Office of Safety and Security  will normally perform Motor Vehicle Records Checks for officer positions and those University positions that require driving.
  3. The University’s Vendor conducts the background check(s) in conformity with the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the state and federal anti-discrimination and privacy laws.  The Vendor sends the reports to Director of Human Resources for Employee & Labor Relations (DHR).

 

If an applicant possesses an active security clearance issued by the US Federal Government, proof of that active security clearance will be considered in lieu of conducting a new criminal background check.

The Director for Human Resources will review the results of the background checks in relation to the position under consideration. 

With respect to criminal convictions, conviction for a felony or misdemeanor, by itself, may not disqualify a candidate from employment.  All known information regarding the candidate will be considered.  Except where employment is expressly prohibited by law, the following factors, as required by NY Corrections Law Article 23-A  (a copy of which is attached as Appendix A),  will be taken into account in reviewing criminal conviction records:

(a) the public policy of the State of New York to

encourage the employment of persons previously convicted

of one or more criminal offenses;

(b) the specific duties and responsibilities necessarily related to the employment sought or held by the person;

(c) the bearing, if any, the criminal offense or offenses for which the person was previously convicted will have on his or her fitness or ability to perform one or more such duties or responsibilities;

(d) the time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses;

(e) the age of the person at the time of occurrence of the criminal offense or offenses;

(f) the seriousness of the offense or offenses;

(g) any information produced by the person, or produced on his or her behalf, in regard to his or her rehabilitation and good conduct, including a certificate of relief from disabilities or a certificate of good conduct provided by the applicant; and

(h) the legitimate interest of the University in protecting property, and the safety and welfare of the campus community and/or the general public.

 

If the Director of Human Resources decides the information received in the background check process presents an employability issue, the Director of Human Resources will:

 

  1. send the background check report to a designated Review Committee (with

appointments from Security, Risk Management/Compliance, Director of Human Resources, and the VP/Division Head);
 

1) In the event the applicant is a faculty member, the Director of Human Resources will contact the chair of the Professional Standards Committee.  The chair will ask two members of the PSC to join her/him as members of the Review Committee. The Chair of PSC will consult with the Dean of Academic Affairs to try to identify faculty on the PSC who are in departments either not doing searches or with a search that has not concluded in the previous two weeks.  Two members will be selected by the Chair from among this group.  The materials considered by the committee will, to the degree possible, have all information redacted that would allow the applicant to be identified and that is not necessary for considering if the applicant should be disqualified from a faculty position.  Because it will generally be the case that faculty positions have the same types of responsibilities, only if the positon requires something exceptional will anything other than a standard definition of a faculty position be considered.
 

  1. as considered appropriate, legal counsel will be consulted to determine whether a candidate is required to be rejected or should be disqualified from employment due to legal requirements or other considerations.

(5)          Human Resources will notify the hiring manager when the applicant is cleared for hire. 

If the Review Committee decides that the issue of concern is sufficient grounds to deny employment, the candidate will be provided with a copy of the report and a notice summarizing the individual’s rights under the FCRA.  The candidate will be given information about vendor with detailed instructions on how to request a reinvestigation as he/she is legally entitled under the FCRA.  Human Resources will track adverse action letters.

               The applicant can request a reinvestigation within five (5) business day following the date of the notification from vendor. If that occurs, vendor will notify Human Resources, or designee, immediately and SLU will place the applicant’s file on hold until vendor has completed its reinvestigation.  Vendor will send a written report to SLU and the applicant of the results of the reinvestigation within no more than thirty (30) days from receiving notice of the applicant’s request or reinvestigation. 

If the applicant does not respond to the above notification (i.e. requesting a reinvestigation) within five (5) business days following the date of the notice sent by vendor, and following verification to vendor from the SLU Review Committee, vendor will then issue an adverse action letter on the sixth (6th) day in addition to another copy of the applicant’s report as well as the summary of his/her rights under the FCRA.

               If a reinvestigation has been requested, vendor will send the report to HR and the Review Committee. The Review Committee will examine the reinvestigation report and HR will notify the divisional Vice President or Director of the decision.  If the background report has led to a disqualified decision, vendor will be notified: vendor will notify the candidate with a final Adverse Action Letter.

               The decision of the Review Committee is binding on the search committee / hiring department or office/VP.

Any identified unexplained misrepresentation, falsification, misleading information, or material omission of information from the employment application/resume discovered during the selection process, background check or after hire, may exclude the candidate from consideration for the position or result in withdrawal of the conditional offer of employment or termination of employment.

Academic Freedom and Faculty Hires

 

The University is sensitive to the potential for misuse of criminal background information gained through these procedures. While the University believes it would be unusual, it is possible that in the course of completing a criminal background check, the University could, for example, learn information that relates to the content of a prospective faculty member’s views on a range of political, social and other issues.  Protecting against even the possibility of abuse of information obtained is certainly part of the reason these procedures strictly restrict access to this information.  To be clear about its position, the University will not use the results of criminal background checks under this procedure  for any purpose that is contrary to the University’s strong commitment to academic freedom and the mission of a liberal arts institution.

Interpretation and Application

  • This procedure will be interpreted and applied in a manner consistent with all applicable federal, state and local laws.

EFFECTIVE DATE AND APPROVAL

This procedure is effective February 17, 2014.

Updated November, 2014

Revised February 26, 2015 CAM/LMC

Revised March 24, 2015 VL/JC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix A

 

NEW YORK CORRECTION LAW

ARTICLE 23-A

LICENSURE AND EMPLOYMENT OF PERSONS PREVIOUSLY

CONVICTED OF ONE OR MORE CRIMINAL OFFENSES

Section 750. Definitions.

751. Applicability.

752. Unfair discrimination against persons previously convicted of one

or more criminal offenses prohibited.

753. Factors to be considered concerning a previous criminal

conviction; presumption.

754. Written statement upon denial of license or employment.

755. Enforcement.

§750. Definitions. For the purposes of this article, the following

terms shall have the following meanings:

(1) "Public agency" means the state or any local subdivision

thereof, or any state or local department, agency, board or commission.

(2) "Private employer" means any person, company, corporation,

labor organization or association which employs ten or more persons.

(3) "Direct relationship" means that the nature of criminal

conduct for which the person was convicted has a direct bearing on

his fitness or ability to perform one or more of the duties or

responsibilities necessarily related to the license, opportunity, or

job in question.

(4) "License" means any certificate, license, permit or grant

of permission required by the laws of this state, its political

subdivisions or instrumentalities as a condition for the lawful

practice of any occupation, employment, trade, vocation, business, or

profession. Provided, however, that "license" shall not, for the

purposes of this article, include any license or permit to own,

possess, carry, or fire any explosive, pistol, handgun, rifle, shotgun,

or other firearm.

(5) "Employment" means any occupation, vocation or employment, or

any form of vocational or educational training. Provided, however, that

"employment" shall not, for the purposes of this article, include

membership in any law enforcement agency.

§751. Applicability. The provisions of this article shall apply to

any application by any person for a license or employment at any public

or private employer, who has previously been convicted of one or

more criminal offenses in this state or in any other jurisdiction, and

to any license or employment held by any person whose conviction of one

or more criminal offenses in this state or in any other jurisdiction

preceded such employment or granting of a license, except where a

mandatory forfeiture, disability or bar to employment is imposed by

law, and has not been removed by an executive pardon, certificate of

relief from disabilities or certificate of good conduct. Nothing in

this article shall be construed to affect any right an employer may

have with respect to an intentional misrepresentation in connection

with an application for employment made by a prospective employee or

previously made by a current employee.

§752. Unfair discrimination against persons previously convicted of

one or more criminal offenses prohibited. No application for any

license or employment, and no employment or license held by an

individual, to which the provisions of this article are applicable,

shall be denied or acted upon adversely by reason of the

individual's having been previously convicted of one or more criminal

offenses, or by reason of a finding of lack of "good moral character"

when such finding is based upon the fact that the individual has

previously been convicted of one or more criminal offenses, unless:

(1) There is a direct relationship between one or more of the

previous criminal offenses and the specific license or employment

sought or held by the individual; or

(2) the issuance or continuation of the license or the granting or

continuation of the employment would involve an unreasonable risk to

property or to the safety or welfare of specific individuals or the

general public.

§753. Factors to be considered concerning a previous criminal

conviction; presumption. 1. In making a determination pursuant to

section seven hundred fifty-two of this chapter, the public agency or

private employer shall consider the following factors:

(a) The public policy of this state, as expressed in this act, to

encourage the licensure and employment of persons previously convicted

of one or more criminal offenses.

(b) The specific duties and responsibilities necessarily related to

the license or employment sought or held by the person.

(c) The bearing, if any, the criminal offense or offenses for which

the person was previously convicted will have on his fitness or ability

to perform one or more such duties or responsibilities.

(d) The time which has elapsed since the occurrence of the criminal

offense or offenses.

(e) The age of the person at the time of occurrence of the criminal

offense or offenses.

(f) The seriousness of the offense or offenses.

(g) Any information produced by the person, or produced on his

behalf, in regard to his rehabilitation and good conduct.

(h) The legitimate interest of the public agency or private

employer in protecting property, and the safety and welfare of specific

individuals or the general public.

2. In making a determination pursuant to section seven hundred

fifty-two of this chapter, the public agency or private employer shall

also give consideration to a certificate of relief from disabilities or

a certificate of good conduct issued to the applicant, which

certificate shall create a presumption of rehabilitation in regard to

the offense or offenses specified therein.

§754. Written statement upon denial of license or employment. At the

request of any person previously convicted of one or more criminal

offenses who has been denied a license or employment, a public agency

or private employer shall provide, within thirty days of a request, a

written statement setting forth the reasons for such denial.

§755. Enforcement. 1. In relation to actions by public agencies, the

provisions of this article shall be enforceable by a proceeding brought

pursuant to article seventy-eight of the civil practice law and rules.

2. In relation to actions by private employers, the provisions of

this article shall be enforceable by the division of human rights

pursuant to the powers and procedures set forth in article fifteen of

the executive law, and, concurrently, by the New York city commission

on human rights.