Approved by: The President
History: Issued -- November 22, 2011
Revised -- August 2, 2018

Reviewed -- January 29, 2019
Additional History
Related Policies:
Additional References:
Responsible Official: Associate Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer tel. (202) 319-5050


I. Policy Statement


The Catholic University of America is committed to preserving the safety of the campus community and the integrity of the institution by taking appropriate steps to protect its people, property and other assets. To that end, the University will perform background investigations as part of its hiring processes for all full-time and part-time Employees. Full implementation of this policy will occur on a rolling basis up to the fall 2019 semester. Note, however, that background checks must be conducted if required by a contract or affiliation agreement, or by other University policies, regardless of the rolling implementation schedule.

As the D.C. Fair Criminal Record Screening Act and the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act provide consumer protections in certain instances, a background check only will be undertaken after a conditional offer of employment is made to the applicant.

A criminal history check in the individual's prior countries of residence will be conducted only if the individual's visa and/or authorization to work in the United States was issued before implementation of the PATRIOT Act on October 24, 2001. The University will not require that a criminal history check be conducted in the individual's prior countries of residence if the visa or authorization to work was issued or renewed under the provisions of the PATRIOT Act.

Background investigations will re-performed on current employees where needed as part of an investigation into an incident or allegation, where safety or security is a concern, or when a current employee applies for a new position.


II. Definitions


A. Background Investigation means to check the criminal or other histories of an applicant to a designated position. It can include, but is not limited to the following: educational record verification, license verification, employment history verification, professional references, driving record check, social security number tracer, credit history as necessary and allowed under DC law[1], sex and violent offender registry check, and checks for misdemeanor or felony convictions. Driving records per se will only be checked if driving is required as a job function.

B. Employee includes full-time and part-time faculty and staff, including lecturers, researchers, and those in coordinator or director positions. Employee for purposes of this policy includes priests or other non-student individuals living in Residence Halls (e.g. spouses of staff living in residence halls). Full-time students who are temporary part-time employees ordinarily will not be subject to a background investigation.


III. Coordination of Background Investigations


A. Authority for Background Investigations


The Office of Human Resources coordinates background investigations for applicants who have received a conditional offer of employment, and for other limited situations where a background investigation is necessary for safety or security. Additional background investigations are conducted for campus police officers under the direction of the Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Emergency Management. All background investigations must be coordinated through the Office of Human Resources, except those conducted in conjunction with an external academic affiliation program (e.g., clinical experiences for nurses or social workers).

The type of background investigation that will be performed is based on the requirements of the position/situation, and will be at the discretion of the Chief Human Resources Officer in consultation with the cognizant Vice President or Provost overseeing the specific position.

Negative background investigation results are not an automatic bar to employment at the University. Background investigation results will be used only to determine the qualifications and suitability for employment in the specific position or situation, and will not be used to discriminate on any basis protected by applicable law. An offer of employment may only be withdrawn if there is a legitimate business reason for doing so, and after consideration of the factors listed in DC Code § 32-1341.


B. Notification and Authorization from Applicants


Those applicants who have received a conditional offer of employment will be informed of the University's intent to obtain a background investigation. The University has partnered with a third party vendor to process all background investigations. Prior to any background investigation being performed, a disclosure form will be provided to the applicant and consent obtained directly from the third party vendor.

In the event of unsatisfactory background investigation results, the applicant will receive a pre-adverse action letter notifying them of any negative information (including a copy of the report) and notification of the applicant's rights, which includes an opportunity to respond.

If the University decision is not to hire an applicant with negative background investigation results, then the applicant will be sent a final letter advising that they will not be given further consideration for employment, and a Fair Credit Reporting Act summary of rights with the required information will be sent to the applicant.


C. Time Frame for Performing Background Investigations


Background investigations will be conducted after a conditional offer of employment and before the employee begins work for the University. In those cases where necessity demands employment prior to the time frame in which the background investigation can be obtained, continued employment remains contingent on background investigation findings that are satisfactory to the University.


D. Disposition and Retention of Background Investigation Documents


Documents with results of background investigation findings will not be stored or maintained by the University unless there is a legal reason for doing so. Any stored documentation will either be encrypted or printed out and kept in a locked file in the Office of Human Resources and/or the Department of Public Safety as necessary.

[1] The DC Fair Credit in Employment Amendment Act only allows credit checks under the listed exceptions, which at the University would include Department of Public Safety Officers or one of the other listed exceptions.