Union College endeavors to provide a safe, secure, and healthy learning, living, and working environment for its students, employees, and visitors. In addition, the College is committed to employing only qualified individuals to serve in faculty and staff positions. Accordingly, this policy sets forth Union’s guidelines and procedures for conducting background checks.
While this policy has been developed for employment background checks, it may also apply to certain volunteer roles, if required by state or federal law, an accrediting body, or college policy, or is otherwise necessary due to the nature of the role.
These guidelines may not anticipate or address all the possible situations and circumstances that may arise. For that reason, if you have questions about how a guideline may apply, please ask a Human Resources team member for clarification.
Information discovered through the background check process will be used solely for the purpose of evaluating a finalist’s suitability for employment and will not be used to discriminate against a finalist on the basis of race, color, sex (including pregnancy), religion, creed, national origin (including ancestry), citizenship status, physical or mental disability (including HIV/AIDS), age, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, military status, genetic predisposition, domestic violence victim status, or any other protected category under applicable local, state, or federal law. All such discrimination is unlawful and a violation of this policy.
- Finalist: The final candidate who has been extended an offer of employment contingent upon completion of a background check with results acceptable to the College.
- Background check: Checking or verifying any or all parts of the finalist’s employment, educational, criminal, sex and violent offender, license, and/or credit histories. The nature and scope of the background check will be determined by Union and will be appropriate to the position. The background checks in this policy may be conducted by the College or a background check vendor.
- Background check vendor: A company engaged by Union to conduct background checks. Whenever a background check vendor conducts all or any portion of a background check, the College will require the vendor to comply with state and federal law, including the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”).
- Employment history check: Verifying that the finalist worked in the positions cited in the finalist’s employment application, cover letter, résumé, or curriculum vitae. This verification includes dates of employment and titles for regular, non-student employment for at least the seven years immediately preceding the finalist’s application to Union. Employment history checks conducted according to this policy are distinct from and do not replace the reference checks the College conducts as part of its candidate selection process. Reference checks are conducted by the hiring department or Human Resources before an offer of employment has been extended.
- Educational history check: Verifying that the finalist has the educational credentials cited in the finalist’s employment application, cover letter, résumé, or curriculum vitae.
- Criminal history check: A search for any felony or misdemeanor convictions or pleas which are acknowledgements of responsibility (e.g., plea of guilty, no contest, or nolo contendere) and which have not been annulled, expunged, or sealed during the seven years immediately preceding the finalist’s application to Union. Criminal convictions or pleas will not automatically exclude a finalist from consideration for employment, unless they are related to the position offered and the decision not to hire is consistent with business necessity.
- Sex and violent offender check: A search of state and federal sex and violent offender registries.
- License history check: Verifying, if required for the position, that the finalist has the licenses cited in the finalist’s employment application, cover letter, résumé, or curriculum vitae, including establishing the current status of the relevant licenses. This includes, for example, checking any motor vehicle driver’s license required for the position, or any professional license required for the position.
- Credit history check: Checking the credit history of the finalist, if required for the position. Most positions at Union to do not require a credit history check. If a credit history check is required, this requirement will be noted in the job posting.
- Adverse action: A denial of employment or any other decision made for employment purposes that adversely affects any current or prospective employee.
Background Check Process
1. Consent to Conduct Background Checks and Confidentiality
Finalists must be informed that Union’s offer of employment is contingent upon completion of a background check with results acceptable to the College. Prior to conducting the background check, the finalist must provide to the background check vendor signed, written consent. Refusal to provide consent will make the finalist ineligible for employment.
The information obtained through background checks is confidential and will be shared only with individuals with an essential business need to know. Records of the background check are maintained by Human Resources.
Generally, employment in the position should not begin until Union has received and reviewed the results of the background check. Exceptions may be made by the Vice President for the hiring department in consultation with the Chief Human Resources Officer or their designee.
2. Determining Required Background Checks for Position
Finalists are subject to standard background checks of employment, educational, criminal, and sex and violent offender histories. Criteria for identifying a position as possibly requiring license, credit, or other additional background checks include, but are not limited to:
- Direct responsibility for the care, safety, and/or security of individuals;
- Direct responsibility for handling or managing money or credit information;
- Responsibility for operating vehicles or machinery that could cause accidental injury or death; or
- A requirement for a certificate, professional license, or accreditation.
3. Background Checks for Current Employees
Background checks are not required for current employees under the following circumstances:
- Employee transfers or promotions if the background check or checks required for the position were completed within the five years preceding the transfer or promotion;
- Shift changes where the employee continues to hold the same position in the same department;
- Lateral position changes within the same department resulting from a reorganization or restructuring of a work unit;
- Change in faculty rank; or
- Attaining tenure.
4. Background Checks for Former Employees
Background checks are not required for former Union employees who are offered a regular or temporary position within six months of ending their most recent Union employment, so long as the background check or checks required for the position were completed within the five years preceding the rehire.
5. Current Employees and Duty to Report Convictions/Pleas
All employees have an ongoing responsibility during their employment to make Union aware of any felony or misdemeanor convictions or pleas which are acknowledgements of responsibility. Any convictions or pleas should be reported to Human Resources.
6. Evaluation of Background Check Results
Once background checks are completed, a final hiring decision will be made based upon the information gathered. Any findings of concern will be reviewed by the Vice President for the hiring department in consultation with the Chief Human Resources Officer or their designee. If negative information is obtained through the background check process, the appropriate parties, as identified in the preceding sentence, will determine whether the information is job-related and if a decision not to hire would be consistent with business necessity. In making this determination, the appropriate parties will consider, among all other relevant information, the following:
- For all criminal convictions or pleas, the nature and seriousness of the offense(s), the number and type of offense(s), the amount of time that has elapsed since the offense(s), whether such offense(s) are related to the responsibilities of the position, and the accuracy and completeness of the information provided by the finalist during the application process.
- For all other negative information, the nature and seriousness of the activities or data obtained, the amount of time that has elapsed since the activities or data, whether the information is related to the responsibilities of the position, and the accuracy and completeness of the information provided by the finalist during the application process.
7. Adverse Action Taken Due to Background Check Results
If adverse action is probable based in whole or in part on the results of a background check covered by the FCRA, the finalist will receive a copy of the background check report, a Pre-Adverse Action Notice, and a document summarizing the finalist’s rights under the FCRA. Finalists will be permitted to provide responsive information regarding their criminal history, including evidence that they did not commit the offense (e.g., in the case of a misidentification), evidence of rehabilitation or character, the length of time since the last criminal conviction, other factors relevant to the adverse information, and other extenuating circumstances, including but not limited to disparate legal and enforcement practices. The finalist will be given five business days to provide this information so as not to delay the recruitment process for the position. Extensions may be provided to the finalist at the sole discretion of Union.
If adverse action is taken against the finalist in whole or in part based upon the results of a background check, the finalist will receive an Adverse Action Notice indicating that the offer is rescinded. The finalist will also receive a document summarizing the finalist’s rights under the FCRA.
8. Exceptions to the Background Check Policy
Exceptions to this policy may be made at the discretion of Union through the Chief Human Resources Officer or their designee. Categories of employees who are not covered by this policy include temporary employees not directly paid by the College, student employees, unpaid interns, and volunteers, unless a background check is otherwise required by state or federal law, an accrediting body, or college policy, or is otherwise necessary due to the nature of the role.