Employment Background Checks

POLICY STATEMENT


Delta State University is committed to protecting the safety and welfare of employees, students, and the general public, as well as preserving property and upholding the reputation and integrity of the University. The University requires a background check for each final candidate for all permanent, temporary, benefit-eligible, non-benefit eligible, full-time and part-time faculty, staff, hourly, adjunct teaching, and security- or safety-sensitive positions.  In addition, all individuals who have contact with minors, regardless of their date of employment, require an acceptable background check. This group includes, but is not limited to, employees, student workers, graduate assistants, post-doctoral, and rehired retiree positions. Offers of employment are contingent upon Human Resources’ approval and a successful completion of a background check. All employees are responsible for ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of the background check process.

DEFINITIONS


Adverse Action: a denial of employment or any other decision made for employment purposes that adversely affects any current or prospective employee.

Background Check: the process of gathering and reviewing criminal history records, financial history records for applicable positions and/or motor vehicle records for positions that require a valid driver’s license. 

Conviction: a guilty verdict, a guilty plea or a plea of Nolo Contendere (“No Contest”) of felony or misdemeanor, other than minor traffic offenses.

Credit History Check: the process of gathering and reviewing financial history records or information furnished by any court of civil law, credit reporting agency (credit report), or a third party vendor in the business of obtaining and providing credit reports.

Criminal History: the process of gathering and reviewing criminal history records or information furnished by a criminal justice agency or third party vendor in the business of obtaining and providing criminal history records relating to an individual’s criminal convictions.  A criminal history record does not include an individual’s conviction records that have been sealed by court order.  Criminal records include in-state, out-of-state and international criminal history, including misdemeanor and felony convictions.

Criminal Record Background Check: includes checks of motor vehicle license, court records, and criminal convictions based on identification and personal information provided by the preferred candidate.

Preferred Candidate: any person to whom a contingent offer will be made and submitted to the hiring official for selection as a new hire, or any employee of the University who is selected as the candidate for a transfer, promotion, a reclassification, or a reassignment.

Security- or Safety-Sensitive Position: any position designated as a Security- or Safety-Sensitive position by the University due to applicable federal or state law or pursuant to rules or policies adopted by the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning or the University. These include, but are not limited to, the following types of positions:

  • University administrators and others with significant financial oversight responsibilities (president; provost; vice presidents; deans; chairs; department heads; department directors; and business managers).
  • Positions that have unsupervised contact with minors who are not enrolled students of the University.
  • Positions with unrestricted access to residence hall rooms.
  • Other positions designated by a dean or vice president as Security- or Safety-Sensitive. A dean or vice president may designate a position Security- or Safety-Sensitive by notifying and justifying to Human Resources that the position’s responsibilities may expose the University to significant liability. The Director of Human Resources may consult with knowledgeable subject experts as appropriate to the circumstances of the proposed hire.
  • Employees of Delta State University Police Department (DSUPD). Pre-employment screening for these individuals shall be conducted in accordance with DSUPD hiring protocols.

Temporary, Emergency Hires: positions hired under an emergency circumstance are also subject to a background check; however the timing of the start date may be administered differently.

Third Party Vendor: any person or entity contracting directly or indirectly with the University to provide equipment, intellectual property, services, or other products or services that are used or provided to the University.

PROCEDURES and RESPONSIBILITIES


All individuals who are selected as the preferred candidate in new hire, regular full-time, regular part-time, time-limited, temporary, intermittent, adjunct teaching and safety- or security-sensitive positions will be required to have a background check. University employees who are moving to a new position within the University will not receive a background check unless they have not had one. Former employees, including rehired retirees, with a six-month break in service or after any break in service if the former employee has never had a criminal background check, are subject to a criminal background check.

Other Background Checks

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. The State cannot continue to employ a person who has been convicted or pled guilty to the unlawful misappropriation of public funds.

To ensure compliance with this state law, each employee, regardless of employee class, is required to complete an attestation form annually affirming that he/she has never 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 by the abuse of or misuse of any office or employment or money coming into his/her hands by virtue of his/her office or employment. An employee that declines to complete the attestation form may be subject to a criminal background check. No background check will be requested or conducted by the Office of Human Resources without authorization by the employee. If an employee declines to authorize the background check, employment may be terminated. Should the criminal background check occur and it establishes that the employee has been convicted or pled guilty to misuse of public funds in violation of Section 25-1-113, employment will terminate and the employee will have no recourse against the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning.

In addition, background checks on student workers, graduate assistants, post-doctoral, and rehired retirees will be limited to those working in the following positions:

  • Positions handling cash and checks on a regular basis
  • Positions having contact with minors
  • Positions with access to residence hall rooms
  • Positions having access to other student or employee information
  • Positions having patient contact or access to prescription medications
  • Other positions as requested by departments

Delta State University reserves the right to add positions to this list at any time prior to the beginning of recruitment efforts.

A contingent offer of employment may be extended to an individual prior to the completion of the criminal background check. While every effort will be made to complete the background check process prior to the first day of employment, individuals will not be allowed to start work until an acceptable background check is received. Under emergency circumstances, the Director of Human Resources may approve the individual to begin work with continued employment contingent upon successful completion of the criminal background check. Under certain cases, depending on the gravity of the information received in the criminal background report and the risk to the University, employment may be suspended or delayed until the criminal background check process is completed.

Individuals with a criminal history will not be automatically disqualified from employment. Multiple factors will be taken into consideration.  In determining suitability for employment where there is a record of criminal conviction(s) and/or pending criminal activity, consideration shall be given to such issues as the specific duties of the position, the number of offenses and circumstances of each, how long ago the conviction occurred, whether the circumstances arose out of an employment situation, and the accuracy of the explanation of the nature and circumstances of the conviction as stated by the applicant on the employment application.

A contingent offer of employment will be retracted for any individual who refuses to consent to the criminal background check, refuses to provide information necessary to conduct the background check, provides false or misleading information, or to complete the background screen process for the position in which she/he applied and/or was offered. Any individual who has already been hired and is subsequently found to have provided false or misleading information related to the criminal background check is in violation of University policy and may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination from employment.

All individuals subject to a criminal background check are required to complete and submit the third party vendor’s electronic application and authorization form prior to the initiation of the background screen process. The Office of Human Resources will email the link to the preferred candidate to access the third party vendor’s secured website. When the investigation is complete, the third party vendor will return the information to the Office of Human Resources. In the event a criminal conviction record is discovered, a report is provided to the Office of Human Resources by the third party vendor for further review. Convictions not shown on the application but discovered during the investigation may render the applicant ineligible from employment. Incidents, other than unrelated misdemeanors, found through the background screen process will be reviewed by the Director of Human Resources in collaboration with the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’s Attorney General’s Office, as appropriate.

Individuals with a criminal history will not be automatically disqualified from employment. Multiple factors will be taken into consideration, such as the nature and gravity of the offense(s), the nature of the position sought or held, the accuracy of disclosure on the employment application, etc. The application and authorization form and the criminal background screen reports are maintained in the third party vendor’s system and will only be distributed to the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning’ Attorney General’s Office and the employee, as appropriate.

The third party vendor will conduct an investigation where needed to determine suitability for employment at the university. Depending upon the job description requirements of the position to be filled, the background check may also involve an educational background search and/or motor vehicle driving record search.  Background checks will also be made for certain other information as listed on the authorization form.

Compliance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) mandates types of records that cannot be used to automatically deny employment such as arrests, expunged or sealed records. In some cases, an outside vendor may uncover information that may disqualify the preferred candidate from employment consideration. In such a case, the University will notify the preferred candidate of the information and provide a minimum of five days for the preferred candidate to refute, explain, or correct the information.

Adverse Action Notification Procedures

If information is revealed in a criminal history, financial history, or motor vehicle check report that could potentially result in an adverse employment decision, Human Resources shall take the following steps:

1.  Pre-Adverse Action Notice

The Office of Human Resources will notify individuals in writing that negative information has been revealed during the background check process which may impact the employment decision and will provide a copy of the supporting report to the employee along with a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” The individual will be provided no less than five days to challenge the information provided in the report and take steps to correct inaccuracies or provide explanation. A final employment decision shall not be made until the individual’s new information has been considered or at such time the individual fails to respond as required.

2.  Adverse Action Notice

After consideration of any individual’s response and prior to making an adverse employment decision, a second written notification will be sent by the Office of Human Resources to the individual. This notice shall contain the following:

  • The name, address, and phone number of the vendor Consumer Report Agency (CRA) that supplied the report, if applicable
  • A statement that the vendor supplying the report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and
  • A notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information the agency furnished, and his or her right to an additional free consumer report from the agency upon request within 60 days and to dispute with the CRA, the accuracy or completeness of any information in a consumer report furnished by the agency, if applicable

Expenses

The third party vendor conducting the background check will charge a fee for each check conducted, and as a rule, the Office of Human Resources will pay for this expense for the required positions (permanent, temporary, benefit-eligible, non-benefit eligible, full-time and part-time staff and faculty, adjunct teaching, and security or safety sensitive positions).  Additional checks for other types of employment (independent contractors/consultants, volunteers, camp and special event workers, and students) will be covered by the contacting/hiring department and the department will be responsible for reimbursing Human Resources for these expenses.

Responsible Office and/or Policy Owner: Office of Human Resources

RELATED DOCUMENTS

 

STATUS


Active

DATES(S)


Policy Effective Date: 11/30/2015
Revised/Approved by Cabinet: 03/28/2016
Reviewed by the Office of Human Resources:  02/19/2019
Approved by Cabinet:  03/27/201