2.2.2 Background Checks Policy

A.  Purpose    
It is important that the University's academic and research missions are supported by qualified employees with a safe and secure environment for all University constituents, including students, visitors, and employees.  It is also important that the University take meaningful actions to protect its funds, property, and other assets.  This Policy sets forth procedures governing the verification of credentials, criminal history, credit status, and other information related to hiring and employment decisions.   
B.  Background Checks and Verifications
Background checks may include criminal history records or reports, sex and/or violent offender registry checks, motor vehicle record searches, credit history and reports, employment history, education verification, licensure verifications, social security number verification, and reference checking.  Although some information will be verified through the Division of Human Resources and the hiring department, other information, such as criminal history records and sex offender registries, will be obtained from third-party consumer reporting agencies.
C.  Application
  1. Mandatory for New Hires – All new hires will be required to consent to and undergo a background check, which will include a report of past criminal convictions.  Other background checks will apply to new hires when such information may be related to the needs of the position being sought.  New hires will have their past employment, education, and licensures verified when applicable. 
Rather than all applicants being required to submit to a background check, only the final candidate or candidates shall be required to provide the University a criminal background check during the hiring process. The University will notify the final candidate of acceptable vendors who will perform the service, and the cost of the service will be paid for by the candidate.  If multiple types of background checks are required due to the nature of the position, the University will notify the candidate.  All offers of employment will be contingent upon the University receiving a report which is deemed satisfactory by the University.
  1. Current Employees – The University may require background checks for present employees, including employees transferring to a new position, as a condition of continuing employment.  The cost of any report prepared by a consumer reporting agency shall be borne by the employee.   
  1. Sensitive or Security Positions; Frequent Interaction with Minors – The University may require a background check for any individual whose position or interactions justify or require such a report.  Such requirement extends beyond employees and applicants to volunteers and student workers associated with the University.  A criminal background check and a sex and violent offender registry check are required for employees and volunteers whose duties require routine interaction with minors or if such person works in a child care facility.
  1. Foreign Nationals – Foreign Nationals will be subject to the same background checks as apply to any other applicants or employees.  However, a criminal history check in the individual’s prior countries of residence may be required by the University if the individual’s visa and/or authorization to work in the United States was issued before implementation of the Patriot Act on October 24, 2001.  The University will determine on a case-by-case basis whether to require a criminal history check of foreign jurisdictions when the candidate came into the United States before the Patriot Act.
D.  Compliance with State law
Section 25-1-113, Mississippi Code of 1972, as amended, prohibits the hiring for public employment of individuals who have been convicted of or plead guilty to the unlawful taking or misappropriation of public funds effective July 1, 2013.  Effective July 1, 2014, the State cannot continue to employ a person who has been convicted or pled guilty to the unlawful misappropriation of public funds.  Specifically, Section 25-1-113, has been amended to read as follows:
The State and any county, municipality, or any other political subdivision may not employ or continue to employ a person who has been convicted or pled guilty in any court of this state, another state, or in federal court of any felony in which public funds were unlawfully taken, obtained or misappropriated in the abuse or misuse of the person’s office or employment or money coming into the person’s hands by virtue of the person’s office or employment.
E.  Compliance with Federal law
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that employers notify applicants or employees of their rights regarding background checks prior to a third party vendor performing the consumer report.  Although the failure of an applicant or employee to agree to submit to a background check is grounds not to hire the individual, the third party background check cannot occur without the written consent of the individual.  JSU has a Background Checks Disclosure and Consent Form for this purpose, which is available from the Division of Human Resources.
Discrimination laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, prevent employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.  The following policy statements ensure that this policy does not violate such legislation.
  1. Information regarding arrests, as distinguished from convictions, will not be considered as evidence of criminal conduct.  Convictions, unlike arrests, are considered reliable evidence of criminal conduct having occurred;
  2. This policy does not exclude all applicants with a criminal record from employment.  Such information will be used as part of an individualized assessment, including whether the information has an impact on the particular job or business necessity.  The individualized assessment will at least consider the nature of the crime, the time elapsed, and the nature of the job.
  3. History of a prior bankruptcy shall not be a factor in hiring or employment decisions, although one’s credit score may be considered when relevant to the duties of a particular position.
Employees who falsify information on an application may be discharged for such conduct without violating federal law.  
F.  Notification and Appeals
  1. Notification Form – Prior to a background check being performed by a third party consumer reporting agency, the applicant or employee must complete the Background Checks Disclosure and Consent Form and submit the form to the Division of Human Resources.
  1. b. Contingent Offers – All offers of employment, oral and written, shall include the following statement:   "This offer is contingent on the University's verification of information, including the completion of a criminal history check."
  1. Reports Sent Directly to University – Any third party agency performing a report will send a copy directly to JSU’s Division of Human Resources. 
  1. Confidentiality of Reports – All background check reports received by JSU in accordance with this Policy shall be maintained in a confidential file in the Division of Human Resources.  The hiring authority or department head will review the report, and a copy of any criminal history, sex registry, or credit report will be provided to the individual applicant or employee.
  1. Notification of Appeal – When provided a copy of a criminal history, sex registry, or credit report, the applicant or employee will be notified in writing that he or she may make a written appeal to the Division of Human Resources which details, explains, or takes exception to any information contained in the report.  Such appeal must be received by the University within 10 calendar days of the individual’s notification of the right to make the appeal.
  1. Review of Criminal or Credit History – The Division of Human Resources, along with the hiring authority/department head, will review the information received, along with any appeal submitted by the individual.  The existence of a conviction does not automatically disqualify an individual from employment.  Each conviction will be evaluated (on an individualized basis considering the nature of the crime or crimes, the time elapsed, and the relationship of the crime to the duties or nature of the job) before the offer of employment is confirmed or withdrawn.
Post Review Notification – Following each background check review, the applicant or employee will receive a written notification of the result of the review.  If the background check does not alter the intended employment or hiring decision, the individual will be informed that the University found the background check information to be satisfactory.  However, if a contingent offer is being rescinded, the notification should state that the reason the offer is being withdrawn is due to the unsatisfactory background check information.