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Background Investigation Policy

Please see the additional information regarding background investigations for conferences, events, workshops, and seminars.

Effective June 24, 2009
Revised February 15, 2010


This university policy is written to ensure a consistent level of pre-employment background investigations for successful candidates for all positions at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The policy is also applicable to all volunteers and individuals who work with summer camps. Nothing herein is intended to contradict or lessen compliance with applicable federal and state laws or regulations.


This policy applies to all successful candidates for instructional and non-instructional vacancies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The policy will not be applied retrospectively to current employees unless they are promoted (not applicable to faculty promotions) or transferred to a position which has been determined to require consumer or criminal information verification.


The objective of this policy is to establish a process for obtaining pre-employment information for successful candidates including, but not limited to, personal and professional references, employment verification, criminal background, education verification, licensures, certifications, military discharge, and credit history. The policy confirms that it does not supersede policies for health care, school clearances, and police hiring.


  1. It is the policy of the university to conduct pre-employment background checks for all successful candidates for instructional and non-instructional vacancies. Current employees who are promoted (not applicable to faculty promotions), or who transfer to a position which has been determined to require consumer or criminal information verification, will have consumer or criminal information verified for the new position. Background investigations will be conducted on the successful candidate for each search. False or misleading application or resume information or false or misleading statements made as part of the screening and interview process may result in the withdrawal of the employment offer. In the event that the university is unable to complete the background investigation prior to the commencement of employment, the university may make the offer of employment contingent on its successful completion. The university also reserves the right to take disciplinary action up to and including termination where false or misleading statements are discovered after an offer of employment has been accepted.
  2. Only felony and misdemeanor convictions may be considered by the university and only to the extent to which they relate to the applicant’s suitability for employment to the position for which he/she has applied. The assessment is to be done in conjunction with legal counsel and should focus on the following factors:
    • whether the candidate’s prior conviction undermines his/her suitability or fitness to perform the required job responsibilities;
    • the time that has elapsed since the conviction; and
    • the nature and gravity of the criminal conviction.
  3. Senior Policy Executives. Subject to approval of the president, search committees for senior administrative officers of the university, such as vice presidents and deans, will establish specific pre-employment information verification requirements consistent with this policy prior to undertaking a search for a vacant senior administrative position.
  4. This policy does not replace or amend any specific obligations relating to Public Safety Officer, Elementary and Secondary Teaching, or Child Care positions.


Background Investigations: Background investigations may include, but are not limited to, personal and professional references, employment verification, criminal background, education verification, licensures, certifications, military discharge, and credit history.

Criminal Background Investigations: Criminal background investigations include inquiries to determine past criminal convictions. All inquiries must comply with all state and federal laws.

Conviction: Conviction is an adjudication of guilt and includes determinations before a court, a district justice, or magistrate and pleas of nolo contendre (no contest) that result in a fine, sentence, or probation.

Felony: A crime of a more serious nature, usually punishable by a period of imprisonment exceeding one (1) year.

Misdemeanor: A crime of a less serious nature and considered a petty offense, usually punishable by fine.


Associate Vice President for Human Resources:

  1. To incorporate the requirements of this policy into the recruitment and selection process.
  2. To ensure compliance with this policy and relevant procedures.

Human Resources Faculty/Administrative Employment Manager (Human Resources Designee):

  1. To notify job applicants of the requirements of this policy before and during the recruitment and selection process.
  2. To ensure that background checks are completed prior to extending offers of employment as appropriate.
  3. To coordinate verification efforts with the Search Committee chair or hiring supervisor.
  4. To share the results, when appropriate, of the criminal background investigation with the appropriate vice president and legal counsel.


  1. Determination as to the level of pre-employment information verification will be made jointly by the respective department or division head and the associate vice president for Human Resources, the director of Human Resources, or the Human Resources designee. Human Resources will develop practices to ensure that the nature and extent of any investigation will be consistently applied and based on the job requirements.
  2. To the extent that information used in conducting a background investigation is provided by a consumer reporting agency, the university will comply with the obligations of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 regarding any discrepancies.
  3. All candidates for employment must complete and sign an employment application. The application will contain a statement that the candidate’s signature authorizes the university to investigate all statements made on the application and permits the references and past employers to respond to questions concerning information contained in the application and concerning the candidate’s fitness for employment.
  4. All candidates who are interviewed must also execute an authorization that allows the university to request/conduct a background investigation. This authorization, mandated by the Fair Credit Reporting Act, must be a document separate from the employment application. (A copy of this notice and authorization is attached hereto as Exhibit “A.”) Refusal to sign the authorization for the release of information will result in the candidate being eliminated and disqualified from the applicant pool.
  5. Background investigation documentation must be kept confidential. Files relating to pre-employment information will be maintained in a secure location by the Office of Human Resources separate from the personnel file. The documentation will be retained until the employee’s/volunteer’s separation from employment and then will be destroyed.
  6. Background investigations shall be initiated by the Human Resources designee with a contracted service provider. If no issues arise as a result of the background check, the designee will so inform the employee and the supervisor of the employing unit. Should it be determined that the candidate/volunteer’s background leads to the conclusion that they cannot be considered, the university will treat it as a withdrawal.
  7. When issues are raised by a criminal background investigation, the Human Resources designee, in consultation with the appropriate vice president and university counsel or the chief counsel, as appropriate, will evaluate their impact on the hiring decision consistent with applicable laws and this policy.
  8. If employment is denied, based in whole or in part on the results of the background investigation, prior to taking any adverse actions prepared by the contracted service provider, the Human Resources designee will provide the candidate with a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” The candidate must be given a reasonable opportunity (at least five [5] business days) to submit information to the Human Resources designee disputing the accuracy and/or completeness of the report before a final employment decision can be made. Said notice is to include the following:
    • the reasons for the adverse employment action;
    • the name, address, and toll free telephone number of the reporting agency that furnished the criminal background report;
    • a statement that the reporting agency did not make the decision to take the adverse employment action and is unable to provide the candidate with the reasons as to why the adverse employment action was taken;
    • notice of the candidate’s right to obtain a free copy of the criminal record report from the reporting agency; and;
    • notice of the candidate’s right to dispute the accuracy and completeness of the criminal background report within sixty (60) days.


Distribution: A - All Employees

  • Human Resources Office
  • Sutton Hall, Room G8
    1011 South Drive
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2431
  • Fax: 724-357-2685
  • Office Hours
  • Monday through Friday
  • 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.