Background Check Guidelines for Designated Non-Faculty Positions

Definition:In an effort to provide the safest possible environment for students, visitors, faculty, and staff, and enhance the security of physical resources, California State University San Marcos (CSUSM) shall, consistent with the requirements of the law and prudent practices, conduct criminal records check on applicants or current employees who are under final consideration for a position that has been designated as sensitive. The campus recognizes that its need to investigate an employee┬┐s or prospective employee's criminal record must be balanced with the need to protect privacy. University policy and state and federal laws recognize the individual's right to privacy and prohibit campus employees and others from seeking, using, and disclosing personal information except within the scope of their assigned duties.
Authority:CSU Technical Letter HR 2005-10
Scope:All non-faculty employees, including those with temporary interim appointments for a period of 90 days of more, student employees or volunteers, appointed to designated sensitive positions, or as required by law. University Police Department (UPD) sworn and non-sworn dispatch employees are subject to more rigorous background checks than other campus employees. Screening guidelines and standards for these individuals are contained in Government Code 1031 et. seq and enforced by the Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training. All other University Police Department employees will be subject to a modified version of the P.O.S.T. required screening to exclude psychological and medical screenings.
Responsible Division:Finance & Administrative Services
Approval Date:11/02/2010
Implementation Date:11/02/2010
Originally Implemented:11/02/2010
Signature Page/PDF:View Signatures for Background Check Guidelines for Designated Non-Faculty Positions Policy


I. Requirements

A. It is the practice of CSUSM to obtain criminal record information on:

  1. An applicant who is under final consideration, following normal screening and selection processes, for a position that is designated as a sensitive position.
  2. A current employee who is under consideration for a transfer, promotion or reclassification from a non-sensitive position to a position designated as a sensitive position.
  3. A current employee who is under consideration for a transfer, promotion, or reclassification from one sensitive position to another sensitive position and on whom the campus did not previously obtain criminal record information.
  4. A candidate for a non-sensitive position that admits to a felony conviction and is selected as a final candidate.  

B. Criminal record information may be used only for the purpose of evaluating applicants for employment, reclassification and in managing business risks.

C. This guideline does not automatically exclude from consideration for employment all individuals with criminal convictions. CSUSM shall in no way use this information to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or age.

II. Procedures

A. Responsible Parties:

  1. Hiring Department
    • Works with HREO to determine whether or not a non-faculty position is sensitive.
    • The cost of the Live Scan will be borne by the hiring department.
  2. Human Resources and Equal Opportunity (HREO)
    • Develops, reviews, and updates the list of sensitive non-faculty positions.
    • Assures that the candidates have been informed about the criminal records screening requirement and provides appropriate forms to the finalist(s) who will undergo the Live Scan process.
    • Ensures that position descriptions are updated to reflect background check requirements as applicable.
    • Maintains confidentiality of criminal record check results.
    • Serves as the Office of Record for files concerning criminal record checks.
    • Consults with departments about policy interpretation.
    • Reviews all criminal records checks and determines whether convictions disqualify individuals from sensitive positions.
    • Provides feedback to candidates/employees whenever there is a finding and a hiring/transfer decision is made based on those results.

III. Guidelines

A. Designated sensitive positions may involve, but are not limited to, those which have:

  1. Responsibility for the care, safety, and security of people or property
  2. Direct access to, or control over, cash, checks, credit cards, and/or credit card account information (includes cash handling or credit card acceptance positions).
  3. Authority to commit financial resources of the University through contracts greater than $5,000.
  4. Control over campus business processes, either through functional roles or systems security access
  5. Access to detailed personally identifiable information about students, faculty, staff, or alumni which might enable identity theft
  6. Access to controlled substances or hazardous materials
  7. Possession of building master or sub-master key with access to residences and certain other facilities.
  8. Access to sensitive and confidential police records or information

IV. Procedures for Criminal Record Checks on Candidates

A. Effective the date of the adoption of this policy as noted above, the University will conduct background checks on all successful candidates, internal and external, including volunteers and student employees, for positions that are listed as being subject to a background check.

B. The University will determine which non-faculty positions meet the criteria outlined in section IV of this document.  These positions are designated sensitive positions and are subject to background checks.  

C. All position descriptions for designated sensitive positions will document that the position is designated as a sensitive position. 

D. All advertisements, notices, and postings for designated sensitive positions require a record check will state: "Successful candidates for this position will be offered the position contingent on a satisfactory criminal record check."

E. HREO will initiate background checks prior to the hire, transfer, promotion, reclassification, or reassignment of individuals into sensitive positions.  Background checks may be conducted by a campus department or by using an outside vendor. All background checks will be conducted in accordance with applicable federal and state statutes.

F. HREO will notify the individual under consideration for a sensitive position that an offer for employment, transfer, reclassification, or reassignment of job duties on the campus is conditional on successful completion of the background check and that falsification of information provided may be cause for corrective action or rejection.

G. HREO will obtain a release form from the individual under consideration indicating the type of background check(s) to be conducted.  The release will also contain the procedure the individual may use to challenge the accuracy of the background check report.  Individuals refusing to sign the authorization are eliminated from further consideration.

H. The entity that conducted the background check will provide the results of the check to HREO, as appropriate, which will determine whether the individual is suited for employment in the position for which he/she applied.

I. Under California Labor Code 432.7, if an individual has been detained and/or arrested without conviction, the campus cannot use that information in the personnel decision-making process or as valid grounds for an employment decision.  Only criminal convictions which have not been pardoned are to be considered.  If an individual has a criminal case pending, his or her suitability for continued employment may be reviewed upon disposition of the case.

J. Some deviations to the procedure outlined in paragraph D, above, are expected when national searches are conducted. In such circumstances it may be more practical to have all finalist candidates, who are brought to campus, undergo the appropriate background screening while here.

K. If circumstances require that an offer or decision be made before the completion of the investigation, the offer must be in writing and state that the offer is contingent on the completion of a satisfactory criminal records investigation. The new hire may not start the position, or existing employee transfer, until the results of the screening are received and reviewed.

L. If the background check reveals a conviction relevant to the sensitive position, the individual may be disqualified from holding the sensitive position. The Director of Human Resources and Equal Opportunity will review all criminal background reports in which convictions are found and make final determinations regarding the suitability of individuals for specific positions. This may be done in consultation and collaboration with legal counsel, the hiring department, and/or University Police.    Other information revealed in background checks, apart from criminal convictions, may also affect campus employment decisions.