Some Mason Job Applicants to Undergo Background Checks

Posted: March 6, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

To protect the campus community, candidates applying for selected positions at George Mason University will undergo a background check. As explained by Linda Harber, assistant vice president for Human Resources and Payroll, the new policy was established to protect the welfare and safety of Mason students, employees and institutional resources.

Up to now, Mason was the only public institution in Virginia that had not adopted a policy to conduct a background check on applicants, although Mason’s Child Development Center and University Police already conduct criminal background investigations of finalists and will continue doing so.

HR/Payroll plans to use the month of March as a transitional period. The policy and supporting procedures will be fully implemented by the end of the month.

The background check will include reviewing position finalists’ records for criminal convictions as well as checking their names against those that appear on the National Sex Offender Registry and the federal government’s Terrorist Watch List. Background checks for those in financial positions with access to large sums of money may also include a review of credit reports.

Mason’s new policy will apply to finalists for selected classified, administrative, professional, instructional and research faculty positions. Positions that require criminal background checks include those that have access to children, those that execute and approve financial transactions and those that have unsupervised access to highly sensitive information or property.

The policy will also apply to current Mason employees who seek a transfer or promotion to a selected position and former Mason employees seeking to be rehired into one of those positions. As part of the new policy, current faculty and staff who are convicted of a crime (excluding traffic violations) must inform their supervisor or department’s designated person within five work days. In all cases, the safety and security of the campus and members of the campus community are the university’s foremost consideration.

Applicants or employees with an active security clearance from the U.S. federal government may not need to be checked.

Successful completion of a background check is a condition of employment. However, a conviction does not necessarily preclude the finalist from being offered the position. The purpose of the policy is to ensure disclosure and honesty in employment applications. Privacy and data accuracy in the background check process is governed by federal law under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

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