Pre-Employment Screening

Policy No: 
8.1
Type of Policy: 
Administrative
Last Revised: 
March 2014
Review Date: 
March 2017
Policy Owner: 
Human Resources
Contact Name: 
Charvette Webb
Contact Title: 
Talent Acquisition Manager
Contact Email: 
charvette.webb@ohr.gatech.edu
Reason for Policy: 

This policy establishes a process and guidelines for evaluating an applicant’s past record as part of the decision on whether or not to offer/continue employment.

Policy Statement: 

It shall be a condition of employment with the Georgia Institute of Technology to submit to a Background Investigation.

Scope: 

Entities Affected By This Policy

This policy applies to all units and employees within Georgia Tech.

Who Should Read This Policy

Each member of Georgia Tech should be aware of this Policy.

Policy Terms: 

Board of Regents
The governing body of the University System of Georgia

Background Investigation
An investigation may be comprised of one or more of the following checks:

  • Criminal History Search – includes social security number trace (to verify identity), a federal and state criminal history search, a multi-state sex offender search, and an OFAC watch list scan (used to find name matches with multiple state and federal terrorist watch list databases)
  • Academic/Education Credentials Confirmation – A confirmation of academic/education credentials (highest degree obtained) will be required for all faculty and classified positions which require a post-secondary education degree
  • Credit History – A credit history check is required for positions of trust or those with access to or responsibility for money/cash and/or a Purchase Card
  • Driving History Search – Positions requiring a valid driver’s license will require a driving history search and review of the applicant’s motor vehicle report
  • Substance Abuse Screening – Safety sensitive positions will require a pre-employment substance abuse screening (see HR Policy 5.6)

 

Background Investigation Committee (BIC)
The administrative committee charged with determining an applicant’s suitability for hire when the results of the background investigation are questionable.

Consent Form
A form authorizing the Institute to conduct a background check. All employment finalists and promotion candidates at the Institute are required to sign a Background Disclosure & Authorization Form to be considered for employment with the Institute.

Consumer/Credit Reporting Agency (CRA)
An entity that collects and disseminates information about consumers to be used for credit evaluation and certain other purposes, including employment background investigations.

Hiring Department
The department hiring a new employee (whether internally or externally), or promoting an existing employee.

Talent Acquisition
The Institute’s employment office that handles job postings and manages the applicant process for new hires/rehires/transfers at the Institute.

Position of Trust
Positions of trust are those that involve interaction with children, master access to facilities, access to financial resources, including but not limited to cash handling and Purchase Cards, delivery of patient care and have access to patient information or that have been otherwise so identified by the Institute.

Moral Turpitude
Georgia law defines crimes of moral turpitude.

Procedures: 

The Institute will perform background investigations on regular full time and part-time new hires and rehires, as well as temporary, non-student hires. Offers of employment shall be conditional pending the result of the Background Investigation, which shall include, at a minimum, the following:

  • A state and federal criminal history check covering a minimum of seven (7) years;
  • A nationwide sex offender search;
  • A social security number check;
  • An educational/academic credentials check for all positions (classified and faculty) which require a post-secondary education degree; and
  • Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) check Offers of employment for Positions of Trust may be conditional pending the result of a state and federal criminal history check covering more than the minimum of seven (7) years.

A Background Investigation shall also be performed on any existing employee being transferred, reassigned, reclassified or promoted to a new position unless a Background Investigation conforming to this policy has been performed on such employee within the past year. Any existing employee who is transferred, reassigned, reclassified or promoted into a position requiring a Purchase Card (‘P-Card’), when they have not been assigned a P-Card previously, must submit to a credit check. It is the policy of the Institute to check the credit history of any individual applying for a position with access to, or responsibility for, financial resources, including, but not limited to, cash handling and P-Cards.

Petition for Waiver of a Background Investigation

The hiring department may submit a formal request for a waiver of a Background Investigation. Instances where a waiver may be considered include, but are not limited to; a foreign national applicant's first time entry into the United States with no record of being issued a U.S. social security number and/or demonstration of recently passing screening conducted by an appropriate authority other than Georgia Tech's CRA (for example a valid U.S. government security clearance).

All petitions for waiver of a Background Investigation must be submitted on departmental letterhead specifically describing the facts justifying the waiver. Waiver requests will not be considered unless they are approved by the appropriate hiring department official and Talent Acquisition/Office of Human Resources (‘OHR’). Hiring departments requesting a waiver are responsible for providing and/or maintaining documentation supporting such a request. All approved petitions will become part of the applicant's permanent personnel file in OHR.

Guidelines for Determining Employment Eligibility for Applicants with Criminal History

Only criminal convictions may be considered when determining an applicant’s eligibility for a specific position or employment as a whole. Detention and/or arrest without conviction do not constitute valid grounds for adverse employment decisions and do not play a part in the decision-making process. If an individual has a criminal case pending, his or her suitability for employment will be reviewed upon disposition of the case. Nevertheless, it may be necessary for the Institute to move forward in the hiring process to satisfy its employment needs. The Institute will make this determination on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Conviction of a criminal drug offense shall disqualify an individual for employment with the Institute.
    1. The first conviction shall disqualify a person for not less than two (2) years.
    2. Any person who has been convicted of a second or subsequent criminal drug offense shall be ineligible for employment or re-employment for a period of five (5) years from the most recent date of conviction.
  2. Felony convictions and convictions of crimes of moral turpitude automatically disqualify an individual for employment with the Institute in a position of trust.
  3. Failing to disclose a criminal conviction history where requested in employment application materials will disqualify an applicant for employment with the Institute.
  4. When determining whether an applicant with disclosed criminal convictions is eligible for employment or promotion, the BIC will consider the specific responsibilities of the position for which the applicant is being considered, the nature, number and gravity of crimes for which the applicant was convicted and the amount of time that has passed since the conviction. A determination of ineligibility for a specific position as the result of a criminal conviction does not necessarily mean that an individual is ineligible for all employment with the Institute and each such determination will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Employment, Procurement Card (PCard), or Continued Employment When Verifying Credit History

The following are guidelines for the Institute to interpret the information obtained in the credit report for each applicant and/or existing employee.

  1. Student loans currently in default and bankruptcies should be considered bad credit. However, a bankruptcy followed by good credit established after filing, indicates an attempt to rectify past credit problems and may be considered acceptable if the bankruptcy occurred more than three (3) years ago.
  2. One or more unpaid collections and judgments are considered to be bad credit. Collections and judgments appear under “Public Records.” Collections and judgments can be paid, marked paid or satisfied but will not be removed from the credit report for seven (7) years. If collections and judgments have been paid and all other credit is satisfactory, the Institute may approve, at their discretion.
  3. Mitigating factors regarding an applicant’s credit report, such as hardships and disputes with creditors, will be considered by the Institute upon submission of objective written evidence, as long as the evidence presented, in the sole opinion of the Institute, represents reliable evidence beyond the applicant’s control.
  4. It is not the responsibility of the Institute to discover research or verify that there are possible mitigating factors. The burden of proof to present mitigating factors rests entirely with the applicant. If the applicant fails to respond in a timely manner to remove or clarify the disqualifying information the hiring manager may proceed with the hiring process and select another applicant.
  5. A determination of ineligibility for a specific position based upon an individual’s credit report results does not necessarily mean that the individual is ineligible for all employment with the Institute. Each such determination will be made on a case-by-case basis.

Process for Conducting a Background Investigation

Notice should be included in all job postings that finalists will be required to submit to a Background Investigation.

No Background Investigation will be conducted without the written consent of the applicant. Talent Acquisition/OHR is responsible for ensuring that an appropriate Background Disclosure & Authorization Form (‘consent form’), as required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), is completed. Refusal to sign a consent form at any juncture of the application process will eliminate that applicant from further consideration for employment.

Talent Acquisition/OHR shall provide the Hiring Department all required employment paperwork, including the consent form, to be given to the final applicant. If an existing employee applies for a promotion, the Institute shall obtain the employee’s consent prior to initiating a Background Investigation. The employee will undergo a Background Investigation if it has been a year or more since the Institute’s last Background Investigation of the employee. A conditional offer of employment/promotion may be made at this time.

Important: All written contingent offers of employment must include the following statement: “This offer of employment is contingent upon completion of a background investigation including: (1) a criminal background check demonstrating your eligibility for employment with the Georgia Institute of Technology, as determined by the Institute in its sole discretion, (2) confirmation of your credentials and (3) if applicable, other necessary employment checks.”

Upon receipt of a signed consent form and a Background Information Form from the Hiring Department’s applicant and a Background Investigation Request Form from the Hiring Department, Talent Acquisition/OHR will initiate the Background Investigation. If the top applicant is not hired for the involved position (e.g., criminal conviction precludes hiring, other criminal convictions render applicant ineligible for the specific position, applicant does not accept the job offer, etc.), the Hiring Department may select another applicant for the position. Once the appropriate forms for the next selected applicant are received by Talent Acquisition/OHR, Talent Acquisition/OHR will initiate the Background Investigation.

Discovery, at any time, of false, incomplete, or misleading information on a resume, application, or any other official document or in statements made during an interview, will result in disqualification for and/or termination of employment. Conviction of a criminal drug offense shall disqualify an applicant for not less than two (2) years. Any applicant who has been convicted of a second or subsequent criminal drug offense shall be ineligible for employment or re-employment for a period of five (5) years from the most recent date of conviction.

If an applicant is a current employee and the background investigation report reveals adverse information which constitutes grounds for termination, OHR will initiate the appropriate termination procedure. OHR’s Employee Relations unit will draft a formal letter to the employee notifying him/her of the circumstances. The formal letter will include the rationale for the actions taken and information regarding the employee's option to contest the accuracy of his/her background investigation report. The employee will be given an appropriate and reasonable amount of time to contest the accuracy of his/her background investigation report before formal termination is initiated.

How Criminal Background Investigation Information is Processed:

Background Investigation reports are submitted directly to Talent Acquisition/OHR by the CRA conducting the investigation. The BIC is responsible for determining the eligibility of the selected applicant for employment with the Institute. Talent Acquisition/OHR should notify the Hiring Department of this determination. The BIC makes its decision about the selected applicant’s eligibility as follows:

  1. The Background Investigation report shows no convictions: the selected applicant is eligible for employment.
  2. The Background Investigation report shows one or more felony convictions or conviction of one or more crimes of moral turpitude and the applicant is applying for a position of trust: the selected applicant is ineligible for employment with the Institute in a position of trust. Prior to making this final determination, Talent Acquisition/OHR must give a pre-adverse action disclosure to the applicant.
    • This pre-adverse action disclosure must include a copy of the applicant’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the CRA that conducted the Background Investigation, and information on how to dispute information in the report. A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” must also be provided to the applicant.
    • The applicant must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three business days) to provide an explanation in writing of the circumstances surrounding the results of the background investigation, including any mitigating factors, and have this explanation considered prior to the finalization of the hiring decision. It is not the responsibility of the Institute to discover research or verify that there are possible mitigating factors. The burden of presenting mitigating factors rests entirely with the applicant.
    • If the applicant fails to respond in a timely manner to remove or clarify the disqualifying information, the hiring manager may proceed with the hiring process and select another applicant.
    • If the applicant successfully shows that s/he has no felony convictions or convictions of crimes of moral turpitude, then the applicant shall be eligible for employment in a position of trust. Talent Acquisition/OHR will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.
    • If the applicant is unsuccessful in showing no felony convictions or convictions of crimes of moral turpitude, then the applicant is ineligible for employment in a position of trust. An adverse action notice must then be sent to the applicant. This notice must include:
      1. the name, address and telephone number of the CRA that supplied the Background Investigation report;
      2. a statement that the CRA that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and
      3. a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the CRA furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the CRA upon request within sixty days.
  3. The Background Investigation report shows one or more criminal convictions or conviction of one or more crimes of moral turpitude and the applicant is not applying for a position of trust:
    1. If the criminal convictions were all disclosed by the selected applicant in the application materials, the BIC will determine whether the applicant is eligible for the involved position based on the job description and the nature of the crimes of which the applicant was convicted.
      1. If the BIC determines the applicant is eligible, Talent Acquisition/OHR will so notify the Hiring Department.
      2. If the BIC determines the applicant is not eligible, then prior to making this final determination, Talent Acquisition/OHR must give a pre-adverse action disclosure to the applicant.
        • This pre-adverse action disclosure must include a copy of the applicant’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the CRA that conducted the Background Investigation, and information on how to dispute information in the report. A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” must also be provided to the applicant.
        • The applicant must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three business days) to provide an explanation in writing of the circumstances surrounding the results of the background investigation, including any mitigating factors, and have this explanation considered prior to the finalization of the hiring decision. It is not the responsibility of the Institute to discover research or verify that there are possible mitigating factors. The burden of proof to present mitigating factors rests entirely with the applicant. If the applicant fails to respond in a timely manner to remove or clarify the disqualifying information the hiring manager may proceed with the hiring process and select another applicant.
        • If the applicant successfully shows that s/he does not have the criminal convictions that led the BIC to determine that the applicant was ineligible for employment, then the applicant shall be eligible for employment. Talent Acquisition/OHR will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.
        • If the applicant is unsuccessful in showing that s/he does not have the criminal convictions that led the BIC to determine that the applicant was ineligible for employment, then the applicant is ineligible for employment. An adverse action notice must then be sent to the applicant. This notice must include:
          1. the name, address and telephone number of the CRA that supplied the Background Investigation report;
          2. a statement that the CRA that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and
          3. a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the CRA furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the CRA upon request within sixty days.
    2. If the criminal convictions were not disclosed by the selected applicant in the application materials, Talent Acquisition/OHR will notify the applicant in writing that the Background Investigation revealed criminal convictions not disclosed in his/her application materials and that s/he will be removed from consideration for the involved position due to misrepresentation and falsifying application materials unless s/he contacts Talent Acquisition/OHR and corrects any inaccuracies contained in the report within a minimum of three (3) business days. This notification will be accompanied by a pre-adverse action disclosure.
      1. The pre-adverse disclosure must include a copy of the applicant’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the CRA that conducted the Background Investigation, and information on how to dispute the information in the report. A copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act” must also be provided to the applicant.
      2. The applicant must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three business days) to provide an explanation in writing of the circumstances surrounding the results of the background investigation, including any mitigating factors, and have this explanation considered prior to the finalization of the hiring decision. It is not the responsibility of the Institute to discover research or verify that there are possible mitigating factors. The burden of presenting mitigating factors rests entirely with the applicant. If the applicant fails to respond in a timely manner to remove or clarify the disqualifying information the hiring manager may proceed with the hiring process and select another applicant.
      3. If the applicant successfully shows that s/he has no criminal convictions, then the applicant shall be eligible for employment. Talent Acquisition/OHR will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.
      4. If the applicant is unsuccessful in showing no criminal convictions, then the applicant is ineligible for employment due to misrepresentation and falsifying application materials. An adverse action notice must then be sent to the applicant. This notice must include:
        1. the name, address and telephone number of the CRA that supplied the Background Investigation report;
        2. a statement that the CRA that supplied the Background Investigation report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and
        3. a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the CRA furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the CRA upon request within sixty days.

Credit Checks

If the BIC determines that the applicant or employee fails to meet credit screening criteria, Talent Acquisition/OHR must give a pre-adverse action disclosure notice to the applicant. The notification must include the following:

  1. The name, address and telephone number of the CRA (including a toll-free telephone number, if it is a nationwide CRA) that provided the report.
  2. A statement that the CRA did not make the adverse decision and is not able to explain why the decision was made.
  3. A statement setting forth the applicant’s right to obtain a free disclosure of the applicant’s file from the CRA if the applicant makes a request within sixty (60) days.
  4. A statement setting forth the applicant’s right to dispute directly with the CRA the accuracy or completeness of any information provided by the CRA.

Maintenance of Background Investigation Reports

Background investigation reports obtained on new or existing employees shall be delivered directly to Talent Acquisition/OHR by the CRA performing the investigation. The report will remain with Talent Acquisition/OHR until the determination on employment or promotion eligibility has been made and then stored separate from the employee’s OHR personnel file. Talent Acquisition/OHR shall place a certification in the employee’s personnel file stating the date the report was obtained, the name of the person who reviewed the report and a statement that the report showed that the employee was or was not eligible for employment or promotion. Reports on all non-successful applicants for employment and applicants for promotion must be destroyed in accordance with the University System of Georgia (‘USG’) record retention guidelines.

The background report itself is not provided to nor maintained by the Hiring Unit. Except as may be required by law, Talent Acquisition/OHR shall not release the background reports to any person or entity except to members of the BIC for purposes of determining employment eligibility. Consent forms for Background Investigations shall be placed in the personnel file of the employee and maintained in accordance with USG Record Retention Guidelines.

Responsibilities: 

The responsibilities each party has in connection with the Background Investigation Policy are:

Party Responsibility
AVP-OHR & Employee RelationsEnsure compliance with policy.
Legal AffairsOffer assistance with policy interpretation.
OHR Talent AcquisitionOffer assistance with policy interpretation.

    

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