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University Policy 98

Employment Background Screening

Approved by: Executive Council - May 14, 2007
Posted: June 27, 2007
Effective Date: July 1, 2007
Technical Changes: March 13, 2017
Revised: January 30, 2024

Policy Topic: Personnel
Administering Office: Human Resources


In order to provide a safe and secure environment for all employees, students and visitors, Western Carolina University (WCU) needs to ensure that it is employing individuals who make this environment possible. Various background checks can assist WCU in making employment decisions that meet this important need.


It is the policy of WCU to conduct state and federal criminal background checks for all final candidates for all SHRA, EHRA Faculty, EHRA Non-Teaching and temporary positions. Criminal background checks will be initiated for all new hires and for internal movement among positions, e.g., promotions, transfers, reassignments, etc. Other miscellaneous employment changes may result in a background check. It is also the policy for some positions that credit checks and motor vehicle checks will be conducted.  Background checks will be conducted either by WCU or a third party vendor.  


WCU will ensure that all background checks are conducted in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and all other applicable state and federal regulations.

As part of the application process, the applicant is asked to provide information about their criminal record. Information collected on the application is maintained confidentially within the Office of Human Resources and is not viewable by search committees or hiring officials. Additionally, all material collected apart from the application pursuant to this policy will be held confidentially and securely within the Office of Human Resources and will be maintained in a separate file from the regular files maintained for employees.

The existence of a conviction or plea is not an automatic exclusion from employment. Where a finalist candidate does have a conviction or plea, the following factors will assist WCU in determining suitability for employment: the nature of the crime, the circumstances surrounding the crime, the current location of the victim if known, the existence, number and type of other criminal convictions or pleas, the time that has elapsed since the conviction, the actions and activities of the individual since the crime, the rehabilitation record of the applicant, any related information and the truthfulness of the applicant in disclosing the conviction or plea.

Prior to taking any adverse action in whole or in part on information in the background check, the applicant will be provided with a pre-adverse action notice along with a copy of their background check results, a summary of rights under the FCRA, and any other applicable documents as required under the FCRA or state law. Applicants will be afforded an opportunity and an appropriate time period to provide information or data that explains any discrepancies or inaccuracies contained in the background screen before a decision is made.  If after that time period, adverse action is still deemed necessary, the applicant will be provided with an adverse action notice regarding that decision.  

The criminal background check will be used solely for evaluating the applicant for employment; it will not be used to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, age, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, genetic information, veteran status, political affiliation, or disability.

The University reserves the right to conduct a criminal background check or other background review for a current employee if circumstances indicate criminal activity by this employee may have occurred.

In most cases, the criminal background check will be conducted before employment. If circumstances prevent this pre-screening, the employment contract or documentation must specify that continued employment is conditional upon an acceptable background check and that the applicant waives any right to challenge this requirement. In such cases, the check should be done as early as is feasible.

All material collected pursuant to this policy will be held confidentially and securely within the Office of Human Resources and will be maintained in a separate file from the regular files maintained for employees and applicants.


A. Communications with Applicant

Employment documents and material including vacancy listings, advertisements, website announcements and employment applications will specify that a criminal background report will be completed for individuals who are the final candidates for all position vacancies at the University. This material will also state that some positions also require credit checks and motor vehicle checks. 

B. Communications with Employees

This policy on background checks will be communicated to all employees within a reasonable time after its adoption.  Additional questions regarding background screening policy and procedure may be directed to the Office of Human Resources & Payroll.   


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