The Office of Human Resources

Background Check Policy

Brandeis University is committed to promoting a safe environment for the entire community, as well as visitors to campus, and to ensuring that its academic mission is supported by well-qualified faculty and staff. The University is also committed to protecting its property, financial integrity, and other resources. In all hiring decisions, the university intends to select qualified individuals of the highest ethical standards. To assist the University in meeting these commitments, this policy sets forth the credential verification and other background information checks that will be conducted as a condition of employment.

Conducting Background Checks

Brandeis University requires that any full-time faculty or full-time staff candidate who has received a conditional offer of employment consent to, and undergo, an appropriate background check prior to and as a condition of employment by the University. All background checks will be conducted in compliance with federal and state law. Background checks will include, at a minimum, an inquiry to the applicant’s most recent prior employer regarding any substantiated findings of sexual misconduct. Information obtained through a background check will be kept separate from the regular personnel file and will be maintained in strict confidence, consistent with the terms and purpose of this policy.

Those individuals subject to verification and/or criminal searches will be required to sign the appropriate documents to acknowledge/authorize the collection of required information, including those obtained from the Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) and those authorized by the Department of Criminal Justice Information System (DCJIS - iCORl) and Massachusetts General Law (MGL) c. 6 s. 172. If the individual fails to sign the required release(s), any offer for employment or any current employment with the University may be terminated.

Specifics on those subject to background checks, and the specific items included, are detailed in the background check summary by employee type.

Important requirements regarding background checks:

  1. Background check information will be used only for the purpose of evaluating applicants for employment and shall in no way be used to discriminate on the basis of race, color, ancestry, national origin, ethnicity, caste, sex, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, including transgender identity, religion, disability, age, genetics, active military or veteran status and any other characteristics protected under applicable federal or Massachusetts law.
  2. As a condition of employment, candidates generally may not start work until the background check is successfully completed. If it is deemed essential by the SVP, VP or Dean, and approved by Human Resources, to offer employment before the background check is complete, the offer of employment will be made on a contingent basis pending satisfactory background check results.
  3. If a background check was completed within the past twelve months, the results from the previous background check can be used to confirm eligibility for hire in lieu of initiating a new background check. An employee who terminates employment and is later rehired by the University will be required to have a background check completed if the background check on record is older than twelve months.
  4. Background check information will be treated as confidential information. Such information will not be made a part of the applicant’s file or the employee’s personnel file. Nor will the information be communicated to any unauthorized person when prohibited by law.
  5. Individuals already employed by Brandeis University will not be subject to retroactive background checks, except (1) if applying for a promotion or transfer to a position for which a background check is required by local, state or federal law or the hiring department, (2) if transferring from a temporary or special position that did not require a background check into a regular or term position or (3) as otherwise set forth in this policy.
  6. In the event that the University has reason to believe that a University employee has engaged in criminal conduct, conduct that raises questions about his/her ability to execute the duties of the position, conduct that may pose a danger to others, or any other reason deemed sufficient by the University to warrant a background check, the University reserves the right to require the employee to satisfactorily clear a background check as a condition of continued employment.
  7. The cost of background checks will be charged back to the specific hiring area.

Access to Background Check Results

All information obtained through the background check process, including criminal history, is highly confidential and access to such information is limited to those who have a direct "need to know." This may include but is not limited to hiring personnel, those processing employment applications and those submitting requests to a third-party vendor.

Procedure Training

All University employees authorized to review or access background check results, including CORI, must review and be thoroughly familiar with this policy and its provisions.

All employees authorized to conduct criminal background checks and/or review criminal background check and CORI results will be fully familiar with educational and relevant training materials regarding CORI laws and regulations made available by the DCJIS.

Use of Criminal History in Background Screening

Criminal background checks, including CORI, used for employment purposes shall only be conducted for applicants who are otherwise qualified for the position for which they have applied and have received a conditional offer of employment.

Unless otherwise provided by law, an employment candidate with a criminal record will not automatically be disqualified. Determination of suitability based on the background check will be made consistent with this policy, the requirements of the position and applicable laws and regulations.

Applicant Identity Verification

Brandeis University will make a reasonable effort to ensure the background information received, regardless of the source, is for the applicant under consideration. The records received will be compared with the signed authorization and release documents and other identifying information provided by the candidate. In the case of CORI, the criminal report received from DCJIS through a third-party vendor will be compared with the CORI Request form.

If the information in the background check report does not match the identification or other information provided by the applicant, this discrepancy will be reviewed by the appropriate authority in the Office of Human Resources.

Clarification of Background Check Report Information

Prior to questioning an individual under consideration about his or her background check report, the candidate will first be provided a copy of the background check report, including criminal history, regardless of its source. Except as prohibited by law, the source of the report is to be divulged to the applicant.

Determining Suitability

Should it be determined, based on the verification of the applicant’s identity as provided in this policy, that the background check records, including criminal history, belong to the subject, the process may then move forward to determine the suitability of the subject for the position for which they applied.

Unless otherwise provided by law, factors considered in determining suitability may include, but are not limited to the following:

  • The relevance of the crime to the position sought.
  • The nature of the work to be performed.
  • The length of time since the conviction.
  • The age of the candidate at the time of the offense.
  • The seriousness and specific circumstances of the offense.
  • The number of offenses.
  • Whether the applicant has pending charges.
  • Whether there is any relevant evidence of rehabilitation or lack thereof.
  • Whether there is any other relevant information, including information submitted by the candidate or requested by the University.
  • The truthfulness and accuracy of information on the application and other material provided in support of the application.

Adverse Action Based on Background Check Information

If the University is inclined to make an adverse decision on the applicant based on background check information, the applicant must:

  • Be notified of the potential adverse decision;
  • Be informed of the specific item(s) from the report that may result in adverse action;
  • Be informed of the source of the background check report;
  • Be provided with:
    • The background check report – to include the criminal offender record information if applicable;
    • This policy;
    • Fair Credit Reporting Act – a Summary of Rights;
    • Information concerning the process for correcting a criminal record (if applicable); and
    • An opportunity to dispute the accuracy and relevance of the report before a final employment decision is made.

The individual will be afforded five (5) business days to provide a response in writing to the Office of Human Resources. The individual will be notified, in writing, of the final decision and the basis for it in a timely manner.

Storage and Destruction of Background Check Information

Brandeis University will store hard copies of records in a separate, locked and secure location with limited access. Electronically-stored information will be password protected and encrypted with limited password access with no public cloud storage.

CORI records will be destroyed seven (7) years after: 1) a former employee's last date of employment; or 2) a final decision with respect to an applicant or employee.