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Policy 1321
Criminal History Investigation

Date of Current Revision: February 2012
Responsible Officer: Director of Human Resources Secondary Officer: Director of Public Safety

1. PURPOSE

This policy is intended to protect the university's interests and the well-being of its students, staff and faculty and the public. This policy establishes parameters for criminal records checks on individuals who are offered employment at the university. Convictions disclosed or discovered in the employment process may influence the selection of the applicant where the conviction is job-related or such that the university deems the employment of the individual poses high risk to the university community.

2. AUTHORITY

The Board of Visitors has the authority to enact personnel policies for all university employees. Where the board has not exercised this authority, it is delegated to the president.

3. DEFINITIONS

Conviction
The result of a trial or legal proceeding that ends in judgment or sentence that the person is guilty of a criminal or traffic violation.

Crime
The breach of a legal duty, punishable by a penal statute, whether federal, state or local.

Criminal Records Check
A review of the potential employee's or employee's record of criminal convictions and traffic violations.

4. APPLICABILITY

This policy applies to all university employees unless otherwise noted.

5. POLICY

5.1 Criminal Records Checks

All newly hired or rehired (any individual whose rehire date exceeds one year from the termination date or those who are rehired less than one year from the termination date and have not previously had a criminal records check conducted) full-time and part-time employees will undergo a criminal records check. The provisions of this policy also apply to temporary wage positions that are exempted from the normal competitive recruitment process.

5.2 Falsification of Information

The determination of falsified criminal history information on the application or in the hiring process will normally result in denial of or separation from university employment.

5.3 Individuals Identified as Potentially Having Job-Related or High Risk Criminal Histories

A criminal records check may also be conducted for individual employees who have disclosed potentially job-related or high risk criminal histories after being hired, or who have been reported as potentially having job-related or high risk criminal histories by any source after being hired. If it is determined that the job-relatedness or nature of the crime poses an unacceptable risk to the university community, the offer of employment will be rescinded, the individual will be separated from the university or the individual will not receive and offer of employment.

5.4 Job Application/Interview

The staff application for employment requires an applicant to describe any convictions for violation(s) of law, including moving traffic violations. While the faculty profile does not include a disclosure statement, both faculty and staff applications include a statement certified by the applicant as to the truthfulness of the report.

It is acceptable and appropriate to inquire about convictions, but not arrests, during the interview process. Hiring officials should review the conviction disclosure statements on the staff employment applications of interviewed candidates. Hiring officials should inquire about any reported convictions during the interview. Any information about reported convictions, as well as any information about falsification of information, must be communicated to the HR Service Center for further investigation and appropriate action.

Individuals who do not disclose all required convictions on the application will normally be excluded from the selection process up to and including rescinded offers of employment. Convictions disclosed on the application or during the employment process will not be considered in the selection decision if they have been determined to be neither job-related nor high risk.

5.5 Additional Background Investigations

The university reserves the right to conduct criminal background investigations when an employee is charged with any crime that reflects on his/her suitability for continued employment, during the course of an administrative investigation, when the employee is transferred or hired into a new position, or when circumstances are identified that warrant further investigation.

6. PROCEDURES

6.1 Communication of Policy

The provisions of the criminal history investigation policy will be communicated to applicants and employees using the following methods:

  • Application materials provided to all JobLink applicants
  • Departmental employment interviews
  • Departmental employment letters of offer
  • During Onboard @ JMU sessions
  • Classified employee welcome letters

In addition, members of the HR Service Center will be available to discuss the provisions and procedures of the policy with supervisors, employees and applicants.

6.2 Initiating the Criminal History Check

The selected candidate must complete a release form during their Onboard session. The HR Service Center will contact the department with the results if the investigation reveals a job-related or high-risk criminal history record.

The university reserves the right to conduct checks on the widest scope possible. Normally, criminal history investigations will include a criminal felony and misdemeanor court search based on a social security trace over the past seven years and a national sex offender registry search as well as other appropriate sources of background information.

Any information related to criminal history will be maintained in the strictest confidence possible. Only essential personnel involved in the hiring process (including the administrative line up to the president), the individuals involved in the assessment of job-relatedness or high risk nature, and the police and audit departments should be informed of information on the criminal background of an individual employee or applicant on a need-to-know basis.

6.3 Determination of Job-related or High Risk Convictions

The HR Service Center will initially review the criminal records check to determine job-relatedness or high-risk nature. If the individual has convictions that are job-related, the university will normally deny employment. The determination to deny employment will be made by the hiring authority, in consultation with Human Resources, and the administrative line, up to and including the president, in accordance with the policy. The decision to employ an individual with a job-related conviction requires the approval of the appropriate division head or the executive assistant to the president.

If the individual has convictions that are deemed high risk in nature, the hiring authority in consultation with Public Safety, Faculty/Staff Assessment Team (F/SAT), Human Resources, and the administrative, line up to and including the president will make the final decision to employ or retain the individual. The decision to employ an individual with a high risk conviction requires the approval of the appropriate division head.

In making the determination of job-relatedness or high risk nature, the hiring department will consider how recently the conviction occurred; the frequency and severity of the crime(s); and the age of the individual at the time the crime was committed. The safety and security of the campus community is the university's foremost consideration.

6.4 Preliminary Offers

Departments may make an offer of employment to the selected candidate; however, the offer is contingent on the results of the criminal records check. The HR Service Center will contact the department with the results of the criminal records check as soon as possible if a questionable record is discovered. In some cases, job offers may be delayed until the results of the checks are received.

If the employee commences work before the results of the criminal records check have been received, the offer letter will note that the continuation of employment is contingent on the results of the check.

6.5 References

JMU Policy 1320 provides more information regarding the hiring of classified and wage employees, including the university's policy on reference checks. JMU Policy 2101 provides more detailed information regarding the hiring of faculty.

7. RESPONSIBILITIES

Hiring supervisors are responsible for adherence to this policy, including communicating it clearly to job applicants.

The HR Service Center is responsible for the management of this policy, including overseeing the criminal records check process and reporting results.

8. SANCTIONS

Sanctions will be commensurate with the severity and/or frequency of the offense and may include termination.

9. EXCLUSIONS

Criminal history checks will not be conducted by Human Resources on:

  • Any individual whose primary role with the university is a student (criminal history checks are conducted on students hired into non-student wage positions)
  • Any individual who is hired to work five days or less
  • Student employees
  • Graduate assistants
  • Affiliates

10. INTERPRETATION

Authority to interpret this policy rests with the president but is delegated to the Director of Human Resources.

Previous Version: July, 2010
Approved by the President: July, 2004

Index Terms
Background checks
Criminal history checks