Policy Manual

Background Investigations

Policy Statement

It shall be a condition of employment with Georgia College that applicants submit to a background investigation. Offers of employment shall be conditional pending the result of the background investigation, which shall at a minimum include, 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 trace; and

  • For all professional, faculty and academic positions, an academic credentials 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. Positions of trust are those that involve interaction with children, after-hours access to facilities, access to financial resources or that have been otherwise identified by the hiring official to require a more extensive background investigation.

A background investigation shall also be performed on any existing employee being transferred, reassigned, reclassified or promoted to a position of trust unless a background investigation conforming to this procedure has been performed on such employee on or after July 1, 2002. Any existing employee that is transferred, reassigned, reclassified or promoted into a position requiring a Purchase Card, when they have not been assigned a Purchase Card previously, must submit to a credit check. Existing cardholders are subject to a background check in, but not limited to the, following situations:

  • Renewal of card

  • Bi-Annual Compliance

  • Employment Investigations

Policy Scope

The following categories are covered under this policy:

  • Employees

  • Full-time or Part-time
  • Regular or Temporary
  • Faculty or Staff
  • Students in Position of Trust
  • Volunteers - non-employees that perform services for Georgia College for civic, charitable, educational, or humanitarian reasons without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation for services rendered.

  • Independent Contractors - non–employees that normally provide services to the public in a trade, business, or professional capacity that is performing these duties on behalf of Georgia College.

Exceptions to this policy for can be submitted for review by and approved by both the Chief Human Resources Officer and General Counsel. These exceptions are for logistical and time bound circumstances that apply to volunteers and independent contractors who, by the nature of their professional reputation, distinguished artistic expertise, or learned discipline are engaged by the University to deliver unique learning opportunities of short-term nature for Georgia College Students, Faculty, Staff and the local community.

 

Process for Conducting Background Investigation

Georgia College typically uses a third-party agency to conduct background investigations regarding criminal records during the pre-engagement state. However, as part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, this information cannot be used as a basis for denying employment, unless it is determined to be due to job-related issues or business necessity. Georgia College will ensure that all background checks are conducted in compliance with all federal and state statutes, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

The Office of Human Resources is responsible for initiating and processing background investigations. In some cases, other departments may be designated and approved by Human Resources to initiate background checks. As such, the Department is responsible for assuring that all information attained from the background check will be used only as part of the work engagement process and will be kept strictly confidential. The burden of proof to present mitigating factors and/or to prove the accuracy or inaccuracy of any particular record obtained through a background investigation rests entirely with the applicant.

Notice should be included in all job postings that candidates selected for hire may be required to submit to a background investigation.

The Hiring Department is responsible for confirming the employment history and credentials of an applicant before having the Office of Human Resources initiate the Background Investigation and before extending an offer of employment. The Office of Human Resources shall give the Hiring Department all required employment paperwork, including the Consent Forms, to be given to the final candidate. With respect to the promotion of existing employees, the institution shall implement a procedure for obtaining the Consent Form from the employee prior to initiating the Background Investigation. A conditional offer of employment/promotion may be made at this time. Important: All offers of employment must be made in writing and must include the following statement: “This offer of employment is contingent upon completion of a background investigation including a criminal background check demonstrating your eligibility for employment with Georgia College as determined by Georgia College in its sole discretion, confirmation of the credentials and employment history reflected in your application materials.”

Upon receipt of a signed Consent Form, the Office of Human Resources or the designated Department will initiate the Background Investigation. Georgia College will use a third-party agency to conduct background investigations.  

The Office of Human Resources receives the results from the third party and will communicate those results to the Hiring Manager.

Only under specific and controlled conditions will appropriate personnel from the Office of Human Resources, Public Safety Department and/or the Office of Legal Affairs personnel at Georgia College have access to adverse information or results. Under limited circumstances, the President and/or relevant Vice-President or Provost may request access to background information. Such a request should be made in writing and reviewed by the Office of Legal Affairs.

 

Determining Employment Eligibility for Applicants with Criminal History

Only criminal convictions may be considered when determining a candidate’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. However, if an individual has a criminal case pending, his or her suitability for continued employment will be reviewed upon disposition of the case.


  1. Conviction of a criminal drug offense shall disqualify an individual for employment with Georgia College as follows:
    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 involving crimes of moral turpitude automatically disqualify and individual from employment with Georgia College in a position of trust.
  3. Failing to disclose a criminal conviction history where required in employment application materials will disqualify a candidate for employment with Georgia College.
  4. When determining whether a candidate with disclosed criminal convictions is eligible for employment or promotion, the Background Investigation Committee will consider the specific responsibilities of the position for which the candidate is being considered, the nature, number and gravity of crimes for which the candidate 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 institution, and each such determination will be made on a case by case basis.

Guidelines for Determining Eligibility for Employment or Continued Employment or Eligibility for a Purchase Card When Verifying Credit History

  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 over three years ago.

  2. Credit reports indicating installments in excess of 40% of gross monthly income are not acceptable.

  3. 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 7 years. If collections and judgments have been paid and all other credit is satisfactory, the institution may approve, at their discretion.

  4. Mitigating factors regarding an applicant’s credit report, such as hardships and disputes with creditors, will be considered by the institution upon submission of objective written evidence, as long as the evidence presented, in the sole opinion of the institution, represents reliable evidence beyond the applicant’s control.

  5. It is not the responsibility of the institution to discover, research or verify that there are possible mitigating factors. The burden of proof to present mitigating factors rests entirely with the applicant.

  6. A determination of ineligibility for a specific position as the result of his or her credit report results does not necessarily mean that an individual is ineligible for all employment with the institution and each such determination will be made on a case by case basis.

  7. If the institution determines the employee is not eligible for employment, continued employment or to receive a purchase card, an adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate. This notice must include:

    1. the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;

    2. a statement that the company 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 company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days

How Criminal Background Check Information is Processed

Background Investigation reports are submitted directly to the Office of Human Resources by the entity performing the investigation. The Office of Human Resources is responsible for determining the eligibility of the selected candidate for employment with the institution and should notify the Hiring Department of this determination. The Office of Human Resources makes its decision about the selected candidate’s eligibility as follows:


  1. The Background Investigation report shows no convictions: the selected candidate 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: the selected candidate is ineligible for employment with the institution in a position of trust.
    1. Prior to making this final determination, the Office of Human Resources, in consultation with Public Safety and Legal Affairs (Pre-Adverse Committee), must give a pre-adverse action disclosure to the candidate. This pre-adverse action disclosure must include a copy of the candidate’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the company 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 candidate. This summary will be typically provided by the company performing the Background Investigation.
    2. The candidate must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three 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.
    3. If the candidate successfully shows that s/he has no felony convictions or convictions of crimes of moral turpitude, then the candidate shall be eligible for employment. The Office of Human Resources will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.
    4. If the candidate is unsuccessful in showing no felony convictions or convicitons of crimes of moral turpitude, then the candidate is ineligible for employment ina position of trust. An adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate. This notice must include:
      1. the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;
      2. a statement that the company 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. notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days.
  3. The Background Investigation report shows one or more criminal convictions and the applicant is not applying for a position of trust:
    1. The criminal convictions were all disclosed by the selected candidate in the application materials. The Office of Human Resources in consultation with Public Safety and Legal Affairs (Pre-Adverse Committee) will determine whether the candidate is eligible for the involved position based on the job description and the nature of the crimes for which the candidate was convicted.
      1. If it is determined that the candidate is eligible, the Hiring Department will be notified.
      2. If it is determined that candidate is not eligible, prior to making this final determination, a pre-adverse action disclosure is provided to the candidate. This pre-adverse action disclosure must include a copy of the candidate’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the company 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 candidate. This summary will be typically provided by the company performing the Background Investigation.
      3. The candidate must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three 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.
      4. If the candidate successfully shows that s/he does not have the criminal convictions that led to the determination that the candidate was ineligible for employment, then the candidate shall be eligible for employment. The Office of Human Resources will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.
      5. If the candidate is unsuccessful in showing that s/he does not have the criminal convictions that led to the determination that the candidate was ineligible for employment, then the candidate is ineligible for employment. An adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate. This notice must include:
        1. the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;
        2. a statement that the company 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. notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days.
    2. The criminal convictions were not disclosed by the selected candidate in the application materials. The Office of Human Resources will notify the candidate in writing that the Background Investigation revealed criminal convictions not disclosed in his/her application materials and that s/he will removed from consideration for the involved position due to misrepresentation and falsifying application materials unless s/he contacts the Office of Human Resources and corrects any inaccuracies contained in the report within a minimum of three (3) days. This notification will be accompanied by a pre-adverse action disclosure. 
      1. The pre-adverse disclosure must include a copy of the candidate’s Background Investigation report, together with the name, address and telephone number of the company 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 candidate. This summary will be typically provided by the company performing the Background Investigation.
      2. The candidate must be given an opportunity (a minimum of three 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.
      3. If the candidate successfully shows that s/he has no criminal convictions, then the candidate shall be eligible for employment. The Hiring Office will notify the Hiring Department of this determination.
      4. If the candidate is unsuccessful in showing no criminal convictions, then the candidate is ineligible for employment due to misrepresentation and falsifying application materials. An adverse action notice must then be sent to the candidate. This notice must include:
        1. the name, address and telephone number of the company that supplied the Background Investigation report;
        2. a statement that the company 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. notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of any information the company furnished in the Background Investigation report and the right of the individual to obtain an additional free report from the company upon request within sixty days.
  4. It is not the responsibility of the institution to discover research or verify that there are possible mitigating factors. The burden of proof to present mitigating factors rests entirely with the applicant.

A copy of his or her report shall be given to each applicant and/or employee as applicable.

This policy is based on the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia (“BOR”) policy located at: http://www.usg.edu/hr/manual/background_investigation. To the extent there is any conflict from the actual written BOR policy, the BOR policy will prevail. The College reserves the right to amend this policy and any related policies and/or procedures from time to time in its sole discretion.