Background Investigations

I. Scope

This policy applies to all New and Rehired Employees that begin employment on or after July 01, 2016.  Employees that transfer or get promoted 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 serving minors. The individuals instructing or supervising minors  who are not enrolled in university courses, must complete a background check. Please see the 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. 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 (see procedures for more information).
  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. The university, through Human Resources and Payroll, reserves the right to request a background investigation when circumstances are identified that warrant further investigation.
  5. A regular audit of background checks will be conducted. Employees that are required to complete a background check as a results of an audit, must do so within five (5) days of receiving the request.
  6. Contractors at George Mason University shall manage their own background check policy and process.

B. Reporting Requirement

  1. Employees must inform Human Resources (HR Background Check Consultant) within five (5) calendar days if they are convicted of a crime (including but not limited to convictions that violate state or federal alcohol or substance abuse laws). Reporting of minor moving and non-moving traffic infractions are not required. Failure to disclose convictions may result in disciplinary action or termination. An employee’s appeal of a conviction does not affect the employee’s obligation to report the conviction. Please see procedures for more information.
  2. Employees authorized to drive a State Operated Vehicle (SOV) for university business must report all traffic related convictions to their supervisor and Risk Management (see Policy 1411).

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.

Conviction: A finding of guilty (including a plea of guilty or nolo contendere), or imposition of sentence, or both, by any judicial body charged with the responsibility of determining violations of the federal or state criminal drug laws, alcohol beverage control laws, or laws that govern driving while intoxicated.

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

Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance

Provost and Executive Vice President

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

Revised: January 10, 2020