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University Policy 98

Employment Background Screening

Approved by: Executive Council - May 14, 2007
Posted: June 27, 2007
Effective Date: July 1, 2007
Technical Changes March 13, 2017

Policy Topic: Personnel
Administering Office: Human Resources


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.


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.


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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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)
  3. 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.
  4. 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 filled.
    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. (Attachment 3)

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.

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