Background Check Policy

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Policy Code: 
3127
Approval Authority: 
Chancellor
Policy Type: 
University Policy
Policy Owner: 
Administration and Finance
Responsible Office: 
Human Resources - 828.251.6605

I. Purpose

The University of North Carolina at Asheville strives to provide a safe and secure environment for its students, faculty, staff, visitors and other constituents, and to protect University funds, property and other assets from waste, fraud and abuse. 

II. Scope  

This policy applies to:

  • Final candidates for Faculty, Adjunct Instructors, EPA and SPA staff positions, as well as final candidates for temporary appointments (other than student positions where work is incidental to the individual’s status as a UNC Asheville student), and volunteers. Student workers in positions identified as working with minors are also subject to the criminal background check requirement.
  • Individuals who work or volunteer as part of a University-sponsored program or summer camp that is offered to pre-college-age minors are subject to background checks, even if the individual is not on the University’s payroll.  However, individuals who provide volunteer services that are limited in nature (such as a lecture or presentation) and who have no direct individual contact with, or oversight of, underage participants, or who are never alone with underage participants in the program are not subject to the background check requirement.
  • Current employees are subject to new or additional background checks when assuming new duties and/or a new position that includes interaction with minor children, significant financial responsibilities, law enforcement authority, or other duties  associated with responsbility for or proximity to sensitive data or information. These are determined on a case by case basis by the senior administrative officer in consultation with the University General Counsel and the Office of Human Resources.
  • UNC Asheville employees who are convicted of a criminal offense (other than a misdemeanor traffic violation, unless that conviction compromises the ability to perform the essential functions of the position) are also subject to background checks. “Conviction” shall include a guilty verdict, guilty plea, or “no contest” plea. 
  • The University reserves the right to conduct relevant background checks of current employees when it has reasonable grounds to do so, e.g., no prior check was done, a workplace incident has occurred, upon self-disclosure of criminal activity or upon the University being informed of such activity, update of information due to designation as sensitive/critical position, or upon change of assignment. Such checks must be authorized by a Senior Officer.
  • The University reserves the right to conduct a criminal background check on contractors (or to require the contractor to conduct criminal background checks on their employees) or individuals on-campus in positions of trust that involve interaction with minor children, or with master access to facilities, patient information, or confidential information, or that have been otherwise identified by the University. Such checks must be authorized by a Senior Officer.

III. Definitions

Background Check – the process of gathering and reviewing criminal history records, reference checks, financial history records, and/or motor vehicle records.

Background Check Screening Committee – the administrative screening committee that is charged with determining questions of suitability of hire. The committee will have a minimum of three members and not more than five members and will include a Human Resources Representative, a General Counsel Representative, and the Chief or Assistant Chief of Public Safety.  Other individuals may be consulted at the discretion of Human Resources and/or General Counsel, including but not limited to, the hiring supervisor, the department head or chair,  a dean, the appropriate Senior Officer, and/or the Chancellor. All members who serve on the committee must maintain confidentiality as required by law and are trained in the factors to consider. 

Conviction – a guilty verdict, a guilty plea, or a plea of Nolo Contendere (“No Contest”) of felony or misdemeanor, other than minor traffic offenses. This includes any convictions or pleas that are acknowledgments of criminal responsibility subject to the jurisdiction of a military court. Convictions that have been expunged pursuant to the laws of the state where the conviction occurred may not be considered for any purpose under this policy.

Credit History Checks – the process of gathering and reviewing financial history records or information furnished by any court of civil law, credit reporting agency (credit report), or a third party vendor in the business of obtaining and providing credit reports.  Information obtained as part of a credit check is handled in accordance with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. 

Criminal History Check – the process of gathering and reviewing criminal history records or information furnished by a criminal justice agency or third party vendor in the business of obtaining and providing criminal history records relating to an individual’s criminal convictions.

Hiring Authority(ies) – the individual(s) in a campus department or division with the authority to make hiring decisions.  The hiring authority is typically a department director or academic department chair/dean and/or the senior officer of the division.

Reference Checks /Credentials– the process of contacting individuals directly or through a third party vendor, including current and former employees, companies, and educational institutions that may reasonably be relied upon to provide relevant information regarding fitness for employment.

Senior Officer or Senior Staff – members of the Senior Staff at UNC Asheville are:  Chancellor, Provost, Vice Chancellors, Chief of Staff, University General Counsel and Senior Administrator of University Enterprises/Director of Athletics.

IV. Policy           

A. Policy Statement

The University of North Carolina at Asheville will not employ individuals with criminal convictions who pose an unacceptable risk to the University or its employees, students, and/or visitors.  Background checks will be required for new employees and volunteers before they begin work and, in certain cases (as specified in this policy), may be required during the course of employment.  Current employees and volunteers are also required to self-disclose criminal convictions or felony charges within three business days of the conviction or felony charge.  The use of information obtained in connection with this policy will be in compliance with all applicable laws. 

A criminal conviction does not automatically disqualify one from employment by UNC Asheville.  A candidate's eligibility for employment or an employee’s continued employment following a conviction or felony charge will depend on a variety of factors.

A determination of ineligibility for a specific position as the result of his or her credit history check results does not necessarily mean that an individual is ineligible for all employment within the institution; each eligibility determination will be made on a case by case basis in relation to the duties of the position.

The safety and security of the campus, university assets, and members of the campus community will be the most important consideration in determining eligibility for employment. Falsification, misrepresentation, or failure to disclose relevant information will disqualify a candidate from employment and may subject a current employee to dismissal.

Background checks will be used only to evaluate candidates/employees for employment purposes, and will not be used to discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, gender identity or expression or sexual orientation[1], national origin, disability, veteran’s status or genetic information or any other legally protected status.

B. Background Checks for Applicants, Volunteers, and Student Workers Identified as Working with Minors

Applicants are required to disclose all felony and misdemeanor convictions other than minor traffic violations, including those that have occurred under a name other than the name provided on the application. Applicants who do not disclose all felony and/or misdemeanor convictions on the application will not be offered employment based on falsification of application. 

Under no circumstances will a new employee be allowed to begin employment before the background check process has been completed.  If the background check is completed post-offer, the offer of employment must be made contingent upon satisfactory completion of the background check and this contingency must be part of the offer.  Note: For permanent and temporary staff positions, background checks should be conducted prior to making an offer of employment.  Volunteers also must have completed a background check prior to beginning any volunteer work on campus.

A criminal background check must be completed for each employee and volunteer prior to his or her direct participation with minors in a program or activity covered by the Programs and Activities Involving Minors on Campus Policy, and at least once every four years thereafter. Some programs involving minors may require annual criminal background checks for employees and volunteers, at the discretion of the Program Director and The Committee on Programs and Activities Involving Minors on Campus.

The type of background check conducted varies by position:

  • Criminal History Check – A check will be conducted for the final candidate(s) for all positions as noted above and for employees who are convicted of a criminal offense while employed by the University. Criminal History Checks are conducted by a Human Resources Representative through a contract with a reputable vendor providing this service. 
  • Credit History Check –Credit or consumer reports will only be requested where such information is substantially related to the duties and responsibilities of the position. Federal laws prohibit discrimination against an applicant or employee as a result of bankruptcy. Credit checks are conducted by a Human Resources Representative through a contract with a reputable vendor providing this service. 
  • Motor Vehicle Check – A motor vehicle check will be conducted on the final candidate(s) for a position that: 1) requires a valid driver’s license, or 2) requires the employee to drive a state vehicle as a regular part of their job responsibilities, or 3) a dedicated vehicle is provided to the employee for the purpose of conducting University business.  Motor vehicle checks are conducted by a Human Resources Representative through a contract with a reputable vendor providing this service. 
  • Reference Checks/Credentials – verification of education, professional licenses, academic credentials, work experience, and references.  The Hiring Authority or the search committee will verify work experience and references.  A Human Resources Representative will submit requests for education verifications, or may submit requests through a reputable vendor providing this service. 

C. Employee Self-Disclosure Requirements

1. Criminal Conviction or Felony Charge

All current employees and volunteers are required to self-disclose criminal convictions (not including minor traffic violations) or pending felony charges filed against them within three business days of the conviction or felony charge to their supervisor and/or a Human Resources Representative.  Employees failing to self-disclose may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.  However, employees and volunteers are not required to disclose, and should not disclose, any convictions which have been expunged pursuant to the laws of the state where the criminal conviction occurred.

Supervisors notified by an employee or volunteer of a conviction or pending felony charge have an obligation to report the information to Human Resources (for EPA and SPA staff, temporary employees, student workers covered by this policy, and volunteers) or to the Provost (for faculty and adjunct instructors). Supervisors failing to report the information may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

An employee's continued employment following a conviction or felony charge will depend on a variety of factors. The Background Check Screening Committee and the Senior Officer (or a designee) will review the conviction or pending felony charge(s) and will jointly evaluate the conviction or felony charge, the nature and number of convictions, date(s) of the conviction(s), and the relationship that a conviction or pending felony charge has to the duties and responsibilities of the position.  Employees who are convicted of a crime during employment with UNC Asheville may be subject to disciplinary actions up to and including dismissal.  As necessary, the employee may be placed on investigatory leave pending the results of an investigation.

2. Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation

All current employees with primary responsibility for driving as demonstrated in the position description (or in the posting for faculty, adjunct and temporary positions) are required to self-disclose the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license within three business days of the revocation to their supervisors.  Employees are not permitted to drive for university business if they do not have a valid drivers license.

Supervisors notified of the suspension or revocation of a driver’s license have an obligation to report the information to Human Resources (for staff and temporary employees) or the Provost (for faculty and adjunct instructors).  Supervisors failing to report the information may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

V. Procedures

Human Resources (HR) Representatives from three areas coordinate the background check program:

  • EPA, SPA and Temporary Staff positions and Student Workers identified as working with minors – Human Resources Department
  • Faculty – Office of the Provost
  • Adjunct Instructors – Office of the Deans       

For the procedures in this policy, “Human Resources” refers to those performing the human resources function in all three areas. The HR Representatives will follow procedures in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act for adverse background checks that may affect the hiring decision.  All results of background checks are considered confidential and will be maintained in confidential files within the Human Resources Department for staff, volunteers, and students; in the Office of the Provost for faculty and lecturers; and in the Office of the Deans for adjuncts.

A. New Hires, Candidates for Internal Promotions/Transfers and Employees in Positions with Significant Job Change

An HR Representative will obtain the applicable background check(s) upon receipt of a signed background check authorization form for the candidate as set forth below. 

1. Completion of Background Check Consent Form – The Hiring Authority will obtain signed background check authorization forms from candidates interviewed (permanent and temporary) and provide the forms to the HR Representative. Alternatively, if available with the current background check vendor, an online authorization form may be completed by the candidate.

Advisory Note: If any candidate or employee chooses not to sign the Background Check Consent Form, the university will not consider the individual further in the respective hiring process or for the transfer/job change. Additionally, applicants and employees will be notified that they are not required to disclose, and should not disclose, any convictions which have been expunged pursuant to the laws of the state where the criminal conviction occurred.

B. An HR Representative will initiate the criminal background check and, if required, the motor vehicle check and/or the credit history check with the vendor.  The results are sent directly to the HR Representative.

1.  If the background check results are satisfactory, the HR Representative will communicate employment endorsement to the Hiring Authority. 

2. When a background check is returned with information that could potentially result in an adverse employment decision:

a.  Criminal History Check or Motor Vehicle Check reports will be reviewed by the Background Check Screening Committee. 

The existence of a conviction does not automatically disqualify an individual.  In making a determination whether to recommend employment, the committee will consider the following factors:

i. Whether the applicant presents a potential danger to the University or the University community based on the criminal history
ii. The nature of the crime
iii. How recently the incident occurred
iv. The frequency and severity of the incident(s)
v. The age of the individual at the time of the incident
vi. Evidence of rehabilitation
vii. The relation of the incident to the position’s duties
viii. Whether minors were involved
ix. Whether the crime involves theft or embezzlement
x. Truthfulness of candidate in disclosing information regarding the conviction(s)

 b. Credit Check History reports will be reviewed by Human Resources and the Senior Officer of that area and/or the AVC of Finance. General Counsel may also be consulted on an as-needed basis.

3. Based on the reviews, the HR Representative will communicate one of three outcomes to the Hiring Authority:  employment endorsement, disqualification on falsification, or a non-endorsement based on the background check results as related to the position.  A decision to hire an applicant with a job-related conviction requires the approval of the division’s Senior Officer. 

4.  If information is included in the report provided by the background check reporting agency that may affect the hiring decision, the Human Resources Representative will ensure the appropriate notifications are sent to the candidate in accordance with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. As part of this notification process, the candidate is given an opportunity to contest the information in the background report.

5. Convictions that have been expunged pursuant to the laws of the state where the conviction occurred may not be considered for any purpose.

VI. Records

Background check records will be filed in Human Resources (permanent and temporary staff, student workers subject to background checks, and volunteers), Office of the Provost (Faculty) and Office of the Deans (Adjuncts) in accordance with records retention guidelines.


[1] UNC Asheville acknowledges and understands that the category of gender identity or expression or sexual orientation is not a protected category under federal or state law and therefore cannot be grieved beyond the campus level.