Criminal Background Check Policy

Purpose

To ensure Missouri State University ("University") is a safer and more secure environment for all constituents, including students, employees and visitors.

General policy

  • It is the policy of Missouri State University that all new hires ("Applicant") will be subject to a criminal background check as a condition of appointment (student hourly positions, per course faculty, part time and temporary employees are exempt except for "sensitive positions" and some departmental per course faculty as outlined below).
  • Criminal background checks (including the sexual offender registry) shall be completed on finalists before an offer of employment is made. Results of the background checks shall be provided to the Office of Human Resources (HR) and the responsible major administrator such as the President, Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer, Chancellor or Provost.
  • Every applicant, including per course faculty, shall complete an online Application that indicates whether or not they have ever been convicted of a felony. Per course faculty shall complete an online Application every semester in which he or she intends to teach prior to the appointment letter and Personnel Action Form being sent to the Provost’s office. If the online Application indicates conviction of a felony, the Office of Human Resources will follow the procedures below to obtain a background check.
  • Evidence of a conviction does not automatically disqualify an applicant. However, if an individual has a criminal history, the University will consider the following factors before extending an offer of employment: the nature and gravity of the offense; the time since the conviction/completion of the sentence; and the nature of the job held or sought and the relatedness of the conviction(s) to the duties and responsibilities of the position. (If an offer has already been extended and/or employment has commenced, upon consideration of these issues, the division may rescind the offer and/or terminate the appointment.)
  • Information collected will be treated confidentially.
  • Missouri State University, in its sole discretion, may also conduct a background check on any existing employee at any time for any reason that does not constitute discrimination on the basis of a protected class as defined by federal or Missouri law.
  • Missouri State University will abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Missouri Human Rights Act and all applicable laws to ensure individuals are not discriminated against.

Policy and procedures

I. Hiring

Missouri State University departments will incorporate the following steps into their hiring process.

  1. Announcing a Vacancy – All online job postings or vacancy announcements (including ads) will contain the following statement:
    "Employment will require a criminal background check at University Expense"

    This statement will be included in the campus human resources systems for insertion in all position materials.
  2. Applicant Notice and Authorization Form – Once the department identifies the finalist for a faculty or staff position, the department must notify the Office of Human Resources.This must be done before a job offer is made. Human Resources will notify the candidate and request the appropriate authorization form be signed If the individual declines to sign the authorization form, he or she will no longer be considered a candidate for the vacancy. The Office of Human Resources and the Office of General Counsel will annually revise all forms used in this process to assure compliance with all pertinent governmental regulations and the Office of Human Resources shall be the custodian of all forms used in this process.
  3. Offering a Position – Criminal background checks must be complete prior to making an offer of employment. In cases where an expedited employment offer is deemed necessary to prevent losing a highly qualified candidate, offers for exempt positions may be made contingent on a successful background check. In rare cases, this provision can be used for some non-exempt positions. In these instances an exception to the process would need to be approved by the Director of Human Resources and the General Counsel. This contingent employment offer would need to be made in writing to the final candidate, preferably by email. In most cases, only the finalist being offered the position will be checked. However, there may be circumstances where more than one applicant is checked (e.g., President, Vice-President, Provost, Chief Financial Officer, Chancellor search). See Section IV, conducting criminal background checks, for a description of the process, including notification of the President, Provost, Vice-President, Chief Financial Officer or Chancellor in the case of a positive criminal history.

II. Sensitive positions

All new hires, promotions or transfers (including student hourly, part time, and per course faculty) to sensitive positions as defined below shall be subject to a criminal background check. Sensitive positions shall include the following individuals who:

  1. Have Fiduciary Responsibilities including ability to move funds between accounts, use university funds routinely to purchase items/services, handles more than nominal amounts of cash ($5,000+), works with grant funding that can be transferred between accounts, and/or is responsible for auditing fiduciary activities.
  2. Work with Vulnerable Populations including:
    • Disabled
    • Elderly
    • Patients
    • Research Animals
  3. Work at Greenwood Laboratory School, the Child Development Center or work in programs which require or allow for the unsupervised provision of services directly to minors who are not enrolled students of the university.
  4. Work with Select Agents (Hazardous Materials) in which federal requirements mandate criminal background checks.
  5. Work in the residence halls including but not limited to: resident assistants, hall directors and graduate assistants.
  6. Provide Police and Security Services including perimeter security, sworn officer activities, and management of police functions
  7. Operate Campus Vehicles where a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) is required or employee drives a campus vehicle as a regular part of their functions
  8. Have Network/Database Responsibilities that include the ability to access sensitive data (e.g., LAN Administrator, Database Administrator, etc.).
  9. Have Property Access through assigned functions requiring the use of master building keys that provide direct access to students and campus resources. Positions with these responsibilities might include department chairs, custodians, department administrators, law enforcement personnel, building managers, facilities and maintenance staff, research specialists, and skilled craft workers.
  10. Work at Taylor Health and Wellness Center, Physical Therapy Clinic, or Speech, Language and Hearing Clinic in any position having access to protected health information, whether via medical records, billing records, or otherwise.
  11. Serve in positions designated as sensitive positions by the President, Chief Financial Officer, Chancellor, appropriate Vice-President or Provost.

III. Employee self-reporting

All employees must self-report criminal arrests and convictions for driving while intoxicated, any sexual offense, and/or any felony within five days to the Office of Human Resources.

IV. Conducting criminal background checks

Criminal background checks will be conducted and managed by the Office of Human Resources. The following process and roles will be built into how criminal background checks are done and what actions are taken.

  1. Background Check Coordinator (BCC) – Human resources will identify at least one employee as the university’s Background Check Coordinator (BCC). This individual will be responsible for contacting the applicant or employee to sign the appropriate release form(s), submit required information to the background check vendor to conduct the background check, maintain the background check reports for the personnel file, and report results of background checks as required by policy. A key component of this role involves keeping information confidential except on a need-to-know basis.
  2. Steps for Completing Check for New Hires – For new hires, the Office of Human Resources will process background checks for all full-time positions and for promotions, transfers, and part-time positions considered sensitive according to the background check policy. BCC will contact the finalist to secure the necessary waivers and additional information to secure a background check. The BCC will tell the finalist he or she is "a" finalist. The BCC will not tell the finalist he or she is "the" top candidate or that he or she will be offered the position.If the finalist refuses to sign the necessary waivers and/or provide additional information, he or she will be eliminated from further consideration.
  3. Process for Completing Check for Existing Employees – Requests to obtain a background check on an existing employee shall be made to the Office of Human Resources by the President, Vice-President, Provost, Chief Financial Officer, Chancellor, or other responsible major administrator who supervises the position.

    The following are standards for conducting the checks.

    1. Minimum Criminal Background Check will require a check done by the chosen University vendor. This check will provide information on misdemeanor and felony convictions and sexual offender registry in the state of Missouri on every finalist. A driver's check will be conducted if required for the position.
    2. Out of State Checks should be done for the last seven years if the final candidate has an employment history outside of Missouri or has lived outside the state. This can be determined by utilizing either information the candidate has provided (online application, resume/vita, reference check information, past employment information, residence where the applicant has live, etc.) or the vendor.
    3. International Checks shall be conducted on non-United States citizens who have been in the United States for less than 7 years. University may rely on the FBI checks conducted during the Visa process for international criminal history.

    Note: The Vendor will not perform reference checks. Relevant job performance questions are not easily standardized and hiring departments are in the best position to evaluate the reference information collected.

  4. Making Hiring Decisions Regarding Applicants
    • Relevant criminal background information will be limited to felony convictions, sexual offenses, and driving while intoxicated, except for certain specified positions where other misdemeanor convictions may be significant such as motor vehicle offenses for persons whose job duties involve the operation of motor vehicles. Human Resources will maintain a statement of those positions for which misdemeanor convictions are considered relevant, and a description of those convictions.
    • If the criminal record check indicates there are no convictions, the vendor shall inform the Office of Human Resources who in turn shall inform the President, Vice-President, Provost, Chief Financial Officer, or Chancellor, and the hiring department that the candidate is viable for employment.
    • If the criminal record check indicates there are convictions, the vendor shall inform the Office of Human Resources. Human Resources shall notify the President, Vice-President, Provost, Chief Financial Officer, or Chancellor, and shall follow any adverse action procedures below.
      • If the criminal record check reveals convictions which the individual disclosed in the application, HR shall review the report and shall evaluate each conviction, including any additional information that the individual provides before the offer of employment is confirmed or withdrawn. HR shall consult with the Office of General Counsel and the President, Vice-President, Provost, Chief Financial Officer, or Chancellor supervising the position. The existence of a conviction does not automatically disqualify an individual from employment. Factors to be considered are: the nature and gravity of the offense; the time since the conviction/completion of the sentence; and the nature of the job held or sought and the relatedness of the conviction(s) to the duties and responsibilities of the position. Any decision to accept or reject an individual with a conviction is solely at the discretion of the University.
      • If unreported felony convictions are discovered in the criminal record check, the offer of employment may be withdrawn, and, if employed, the individual shall be subject to termination from employment, unless the individual proves that the report is in error. The decision to reject or terminate an individual with an unreported conviction is solely at the discretion of the University.
  5. Making Disciplinary Decisions Regarding Existing Employees
    • If the criminal record check indicates there are no convictions, the vendor shall inform the Office of Human Resources, who in turn shall inform the President, Vice-President, or Provost, Chief Financial Officer, or Chancellor, and the superivising department that the employee has no convictions.
    • If the criminal record check indicates there are convictions, the vendor shall inform the Office of Human Resources.  Human Resources shall then determine whether the convictions were previously disclosed/discovered during the employee’s initial hiring process, or whether the convictions present new information not previously known by the Univeristy. If the convictions represent new information, Human Resoures shall notify the President, Vice-President, Provost, Chief Financial Officer, or Chancellor, and the supervising department, and shall follow any adverse action procedures below.
    • If convictions are discovered in the criminal record check (other than those convictions which were disclosed/discovered during the employee’s initial hiring process), the employee may be subject to progressive discipline up to and including termination from employment, unless the individual proves that the report is in error.  The decision to discipline or terminate an individual with a conviction is solely at the discretion of the University.
  6. Adverse Action Procedures
    1. Before the University takes any adverse action based in whole or in part on the results of the criminal background check, Human Resources must give the individual a pre-adverse action disclosure (pre-adverse letter). It must include:
      1. the name, address, and phone number of the vendor that suppllied the report
      2. a copy of the individual’s consumer report; and
      3. a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act”.
    2. After notice to the individual, the University must wait five days before taking any adverse action in order to give the applicant an opportunity to refute the information.
    3. After the University takes an adverse action, it must give the individual notice (post-adverse letter). It must include:
      1. the name, address, and phone number of the vendor that supplied the report
      2. a statement that the vendor that supplied the 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 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.
  7. Keeping Records – Records gathered as a result of a criminal background check will be kept by the Office of Human Resources. These records will include:
    • Authorization Form
    • Information collected from the check
    • Analysis and decision regarding any convictions
    • Correspondence related to criminal background check

    The records will be securely maintained during the duration of employment and in accordance with state retention policy.

    University shall provide for proper disposal of records pursuant to applicable federal law.

V. Other background checks/evaluations

Other types of background checks and/or evaluations may be utilized due to the nature of particular positions. This could include the need to conduct drug analyses and/or credit checks. If this need arises, campus departments or offices will get approval from the Office of Human Resources (HR) to ensure these tools are only used as justifiable and appropriate with appropriate authorizations from the individual.

Any questions related to this policy, including interpretations and resource locations, should be directed to the Office of Human Resources.