Policy Number: 160

Criminal Background Checks

Subject:

Criminal Background Checks

Scope:

External and internal applicants for security sensitive positions, current employees, student applicants who have been given a conditional offer of admission, current students, and certain visitors to the university.

Date Reviewed: May 2013

Responsible Office: Human Resources; Applicable Student Affairs and Faculty Affairs Offices

Responsible Executive: Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer; Assistant/Associate Dean for Student Affairs; Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs

I.     POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT

The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) conducts criminal background checks in the following instances:

For the purposes of this policy, the university has determined all positions within the university (whether employee or student or without salary appointments) are security sensitive.

Information obtained as a result of a criminal background record check will be used only for the purposes of employment, promotion, admission, and current enrollment or participation, and will not be used to discriminate based upon race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, disability, veteran status, religion or age.  An individual with a criminal record will not automatically be disqualified from employment or promotion.  In the event the investigation reveals criminal record information, the information will be used on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the individual is qualified based on factors such as specific duties of the position; number of offenses; nature of offense; length of time intervening between the offense and the employment decision; employment history; efforts at rehabilitation; and accuracy of the information that the individual provided on the employment application. 

Criminal background information will be regarded as confidential as required by state and federal law and will not be released or disclosed to any unauthorized person.

II.     PROCEDURE

A. External Applicants

For classified and management A&P positions, HR will provide a written confirmation of the extended job offer advising the candidate that the offer is expressly contingent upon the satisfactory completion of a criminal background check. Authorization for the criminal background check is part of a completed application.

For faculty, fellows, and academic A&P positions, the Dean or designee will extend a written job offer advising the candidate that the offer is expressly contingent upon the satisfactory completion of a criminal background check. Faculty and academic A&P candidates identified for hire must complete and submit the Criminal Background Check Authorization Form to HR to initiate the criminal background check. Initiation of a criminal background check may not occur until HR receives a completed Criminal Background Check Authorization Form.

All candidates (including classified, management A&P, faculty, fellows and academic A&P) identified for hire must be successfully cleared prior to the start of employment.

All postdoctoral fellows and faculty who hold a without salary appointment must be successfully cleared prior to the start of their appointment.

Failure to submit to a criminal background check is grounds for non-hire of an individual identified for hire. 

1. Applicant/Appointee with Criminal Background

In the event an applicant/appointee selected for hire/appointment is discovered to have a criminal background, the designated law enforcement or other authority (“designated authority”) will determine on a case-by-case basis whether the individual appears to pose a risk to the university. The designated authority  will consult HR to assess the job duties of a position to determine if the reported criminal background is germane to the essential functions of the position or other duties that may be assigned and conduct the case by case analysis of whether an individual is qualified for the position.

An applicant/appointee considered not eligible for employment in the desired position as a result of the criminal background check will be so advised by HR. A copy of the report will be provided, except as provided by law or DPS policy or university procedure. HR will inform the applicant/appointee that if the applicant/appointee wishes to challenge the results of the criminal background check he/she may do so with the agency that provided the report, and informed that he/she has the opportunity to submit additional information relating to the criminal record and why it should not affect the employment decision to the designated authority conducting the background check.

2. Falsification of Application Materials/Failure to Disclose Criminal Convictions

Falsifying application materials, including failure to disclose criminal convictions, deferrals of adjudication, community supervision or other pre-trial diversion or disposition, is grounds for non-hire/appointment of an individual identified for hire/appointment. Further, applicants/candidates must report any criminal charges or convictions occurring in the interim period between application and appointment.  If it is subsequently discovered that a current employee/appointee falsified information on employment application materials or failed to disclose accurate information regarding conviction(s), deferred adjudication(s), community supervision and/or other pre-trial diversion or disposition, that employee/appointee may be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including termination.  In the case of an individual who holds an appointment with the university, that appointment may be ended.

3. Challenging Results of Criminal Background Check/Opportunity to Respond

If the applicant/appointee desires to challenge the results of the criminal background check, it is the responsibility of the applicant/appointee to resolve the discrepancy, and to provide evidence of the resolution of the discrepancy to the designated authority conducting the background check.  Within two business days following receipt of the notice of a finding of a criminal background, the individual may submit additional information to the designated authority relating to the criminal records and why it should not affect the employment decision.  Before the designated authority makes a final employment decision, he/she will review all information provided to him/her with HR and consult about whether to proceed with an offer or adverse employment action.  If either the designated authority or HR is of the opinion that the results of the criminal background check indicate that the individual may be unacceptable for the position being filled or for continued employment, then the an offer may not be extended or employment continued without the prior written approval of the applicable executive officer or his or her designee. 

The decision of the institution is final and may not be appealed.

If a consumer report has been relied on to deny employment after the institution has taken an adverse action, the individual must be given notice that the action has been taken.  It must include the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting agency that supplied the report; a statement that the credit reporting agency that supplied the report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information that agency furnished, and his or her right to an additional free consumer report from the agency upon request within 60 days. 

4. Maintaining Criminal Background Information

Records obtained from a criminal background check database will not be made a part of the applicant's/appointee’s file or the employee's personnel file, but will be maintained in a separate secure file and will be retained only for such time as needed for the application process. The unauthorized release of records obtained from the TxDPS secure site consisting of identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, information, and other formal criminal charges and their dispositions, is a criminal offense and, consequently officials in possession of such information shall seek legal advice with respect to any requested release of such information.

5. Job Descriptions and Advertisements

All job descriptions and advertisements for security sensitive positions will be identified as such in accordance with Texas Education Code §51.215 and Texas Government Code §411.094: "This position is a security-sensitive position pursuant to Texas Education Code §51.215 and §411.094."

6. Contract Workers

For those positions filled by a contract worker provided by a temporary employment agency, the employment agency is responsible for conducting the appropriate criminal background check and for providing that information to the university and/or the appropriate university designated agent as required by the university.

B. Employees

Employees are required to disclose to their supervisors any arrests for and/or criminal charges of all misdemeanor or felony offenses (other than minor traffic violations), and any misdemeanor or felony convictions and/or deferrals of adjudication, community supervision and/or other pre-trial diversion or disposition (other than minor traffic violations) within five days of occurrence. Nondisclosure or falsification of this information may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including termination.  Supervisors receiving such a report must immediately inform an Employee Relations Advisor in HR. HR will coordinate with The University of Texas Police Department, the Office of Legal Affairs, and other appropriate offices, to evaluate the information and determine the appropriate action. 

Employees must disclose drug-related convictions in accordance with HOOP Policy 173 Substance Abuse.

In the event an employee is discovered to have any misdemeanor or felony convictions and/or deferrals of adjudication, community supervision and/or other pre-trial diversion or disposition (other than minor traffic violations), whether through self-disclosure, a background check occurring pursuant to this policy, or through any other reporting mechanism, the designated authority will determine on a case-by-case basis whether the individual appears to pose a risk to the university. The designated authority will consult HR to assess the job duties of the employee’s position to determine if the reported criminal background is germane to the essential functions of the position or other duties that may be assigned and conduct the referenced case-by-case analysis.

An employee considered a risk to the university as a result of any misdemeanor or felony convictions and/or deferrals of adjudication, community supervision and/or other pre-trial diversion or disposition (other than minor traffic violations), whether through self-disclosure, a background check occurring pursuant to this policy, or through any other reporting mechanism, will be so advised by HR and will be placed on administrative leave with pay.  A copy of the report, if applicable, will be provided, except as provided by law or DPS policy or procedure. HR will inform the employee that if the employee wishes to challenge the results of the criminal background check he/she may do so with the agency that provided the report, and informed that he/she has the opportunity to submit additional information relating to the criminal record and why it should not affect the employment decision to the designated authority conducting the background check.

The employee may challenge the results by notifying the designated authority in writing within two working days of being notified and may submit additional information to the designated authority relating to the criminal records and why it should not affect the employment decision.  The designated authority will notify HR of the results of the challenge review.  Before the designated authority makes a final employment decision, he/she will review all information provided to him/her with HR and consult about whether to proceed with an offer or adverse employment action.  If either the designated authority or HR is of the opinion that the results of the criminal background check indicate that the individual may be unacceptable for the position being filled or for continued employment, then the an offer may not be extended or employment continued without the prior written approval of the applicable executive officer or his or her designee.  Employees who are unsuccessful in the challenge to the designated authority or who fail to challenge the risk assessment within two working days will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.  Standard employee grievance procedures or termination procedures, as applicable, are available to challenge the decision.

If a consumer report has been relied on to deny employment after the institution has taken an adverse action, the individual must be given notice that the action has been taken.  It must include the name, address, and phone number of the credit reporting agency that supplied the report; a statement that the credit reporting agency that supplied the report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information that agency furnished, and his or her right to an additional free consumer report from the agency upon request within 60 days. 

Self reports of criminal background information as required by this policy will be maintained with the employee’s personnel file in HR in accordance with records the retention schedule A contractual agreement, grant or external agency (e.g., school district, hospital, clinic site) may require annual criminal background checks on current employees. In those instances where an employee is identified as ineligible to remain in his/her position, disciplinary action, if appropriate, may be taken by the employee’s current department in consultation with an Employee Relations Advisor in HR.

C. Student Applicants and Enrolled Students

Each individual seeking admission to an academic unit or program shall disclose on the application for admission all pending criminal charges, all misdemeanor or felony convictions and any deferrals of adjudication (other than for minor traffic violations) whether or not placed on probation, community supervision, or other pre-trial diversion or disposition or other supervised release. An applicant offered admission is required to provide written consent for a criminal background check, the results of which must be released to the appropriate Dean or designee of an academic unit or program. The criminal background check will be conducted by an agency designated by each school. Results from any agency or company other than the designated contracted agency will not be accepted. The cost of the criminal background check shall be borne by the applicant. Admission to a school or program is expressly contingent upon successful completion of a criminal background check. Failure to consent to a criminal background check is grounds for withdrawal of an offer of admission or for exclusion or dismissal from a program. The relevancy of any pending charge(s), conviction(s), and/or deferral(s) of adjudication to the academic and technical requirements of the applicable program may be considered as part of the admissions process.

In reviewing the background check reports and any information submitted, the unit or program may consider the following factors in making its determinations: the nature and seriousness of the offense or event, the circumstances surrounding the offense or event, the relationship between the duties to be performed as part of the educational program and the offense committed, the age of the person when the offense or event occurred, whether the offense or event was an isolated or repeated incident, the length of time that has passed since the offense or event, past employment and history of academic or disciplinary misconduct, evidence of successful rehabilitation, and the accuracy of the information provided by the applicant or student in the application materials, disclosure forms or other materials. 

The applicant or student will be informed that the vendor conducting the criminal background check is not involved in any decisions or determinations by the school or program regarding withdrawal of an offer of admission or exclusion or dismissal from a program.

1. Falsification of Application Materials

Falsifying application materials in any way, including failure to fully disclose criminal charges, criminal convictions and/or deferral(s) of adjudication, community supervision or any other pre-trial diversion or disposition may be grounds for withdrawal of an offer of admission or for exclusion or dismissal from a program or academic unit.

2. Challenging Results

An individual offered conditional admission or an enrolled student will have access to or receive a copy of the criminal background check from his or her academic unit’s selected vendor. Prior to making a final determination that will adversely affect the applicant or student, the program or academic unit will provide applicants or students a copy of or access to the background check report issued by the designated company, and  inform them of their rights, how to contact the designated company to challenge the accuracy of the report and that the designated company was not involved in any decisions made.  If the individual desires to challenge the results of the criminal background check, it is the responsibility of the individual to resolve the discrepancy with the vendor and to provide evidence of the resolution of the discrepancy to the appropriate Dean or designee.

3. Validity of Criminal Background Check

The completed criminal background check will be valid for the duration of the student’s enrollment in a program unless the individual has had a break in enrollment or the Dean or designee has determined an additional criminal background check is required for clinical placement or other purposes. A break in enrollment is defined as withdrawal from and readmission to a program, suspension for any length of time from a program for disciplinary purposes, and, at the discretion of the appropriate Dean or designee, after a leave of absence of any length for medical or other reasons.

4. Confidentiality and Recordkeeping

5. Disclosure of Arrest/Criminal Charges

Enrolled students are required to disclose to their respective Dean or designee any arrests for and/or criminal charges of all misdemeanor or felony offenses (other than minor traffic violations), and any misdemeanor or felony convictions and/or deferrals of adjudication, community supervision and/or other pre-trial diversion or disposition (other than minor traffic violations) within five days of occurrence. Nondisclosure or falsification of this information may be grounds for disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal from a program.

III.     CONTACTS

ContactTelephoneEmail/Web Address
Human Resources (questions regarding this policy as it relates to employment) 713-500-3130 http://www.uth.edu/hr/contact.htm
Applicable Office of Student Affairs (questions regarding this policy as it relates to students) SBMI: sbmi.uth.edu/prospective-students/admission-process.htm
SOD: www.db.uth.tmc.edu/administration/student-alumni-affairs
GSBS: gsbs.uth.edu/current-students/student-life/
MS: med.uth.edu/admissions/
SON: nursing.uth.edu/acaddept/studentaffairs/default.htm
SPH: www.sph.uth.tmc.edu/current-students/student-affairs/