Background Investigations

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University Policy Number 2221


Responsible Office:

Policy Procedure:

Related Law & Policy:

  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act
  • Department of Human Resource Management

I. Scope

This policy applies to all New and Rehired Employees that begin employment on or after July 01, 2016.  Employees that transfer into new positions are also subject to this policy.

This policy also applies to all employees, volunteers, and agents of internal programs, events, and camps. The individuals instructing or supervising minors,  who are not enrolled in university courses, must complete a background check. Please see the Background Investigations Procedures for more information.

II. Policy Statement

A. Background Investigation Requirement

  1. Employees cannot begin work until their background check has been successfully completed. Current employees that are required to complete a new background check may continue working until its completion. Continued employment is contingent on the background check results. If a background check request is not responded to within 5 days it may result in a delayed start date or termination. If an employee has successfully completed a background check within the past three years, a new check need not be run.
  2. Human Resources and Payroll will conduct a background investigation on all New and Rehired Employees, and on current employees who transfer into a new position within the University. If an applicant or employee possesses an active security clearance issued by the US Federal Government, proof of that active security clearance may be substituted in the discretion of HR for a new background investigation.
  3. Background investigation records will be received and maintained as part of a confidential file (to the degree possible) in Human Resources and Payroll, separate from employee personnel files.
  4. Contractors at George Mason University shall manage their own background check policy and process.

B. Reporting Requirement

Every employee must inform Employee Relations (Background Check Consultant) within five business days if he or she is convicted of a crime (not including minor traffic infractions).

Employees authorized to drive a State Operated Vehicle (SOV) for university business must report traffic related convictions to their supervisor and Risk Management (see Policy 1411).

The university, through Human Resources and Payroll, reserves the right to request a background investigation when circumstances are identified that warrant further investigation.

III. Definitions

Background Investigation: A review of the employee’s records to include social security number search, criminal records (any misdemeanor convictions and/or felony convictions), the Sex Offender Registry, and the SanctionsBase+ Search. In addition, an employee’s background investigation may include a credit report, military service review, drug test, motor vehicle check, education verification, or federal criminal search when the results would be related to potential job duties. Periodic rescreening against restricted party lists may also be conducted.

Employee: A person who is hired by George Mason University to perform a service in exchange for salary or wages.

Employment Process: The process of completing an employment application (including through online application systems) and/or the orientation meeting conducted by Human Resources and Payroll personnel.

Minor: Any person under the age of 18.

New Employee: A person who has not previously been employed by George Mason University.

Non-Benefited Employee: Non-Benefited employees are Graduate Assistants, Graduate Lecturers, Work-Study Students, Student Wage, Non-Student Wage, and Adjunct Faculty.

SanctionsBase+ Search: SanctionsBase+ is a database of persons who have been sanctioned or fined by various state and federal regulatory bodies.

Rehired Employee: A current employee at George Mason University who has been promoted, moved to another department, or whose job duties have been reclassified.

Transfer: A change that occurs when an employee moves to another department within the university, or when their job duties are amended to require the designation of a new position.

IV. Responsibilities

Department Heads, Hiring Supervisors and/or Human Resources Liaisons will be responsible for their department’s adherence to this policy, including clear communication of this requirement to job candidates.

Human Resources and Payroll is responsible for the management of the policy, including overseeing the background investigation process, confidentially reporting job-related negative results to the appropriate individuals in the hiring department (as needed), and the confidential storage (to the degree possible) of all findings separate from the employee personnel files.

V. Sanctions

Those who violate the terms of this policy, including violations of confidentiality, are subject to disciplinary action, including termination. Failure to disclose a conviction is deemed falsification of application and may result in denying employment or termination. An employee who fails to disclose being convicted of a crime within five business days is considered to be in violation of a condition of continued employment, and may result in denying employment or termination.

VI. Effective Date and Approval:

This policy is effective July 01, 2016.  This policy shall be reviewed and revised annually, if necessary, to become effective at the beginning of the university’s fiscal year, unless otherwise noted.

VII. Signatures

Policy originally approved by:

Elizabeth Brock
Associate Vice President/Controller

Peter N. Stearns

Date approved: August 31, 2012

Revision approved: June 30, 2016

Revised: July 18, 2016

Revised: February 6, 2017

Revised: October 27, 2017

Revision approved: June 6, 2018