CSU Policy: Background Checks

Policy Title: Background Checks Category: Human Resources
Owner: Vice President for University Operations Policy ID#: 3-6004-004
Human Resources
Web: http://www.hrs.colostate.edu/
Email: hr_service_center@mail.colostate.edu
Phone: (970) 491-6947
Original Effective Date: 10/1/2008
Last Revision: 10/24/2014
Print Version: Click Here to Print


This policy establishes the circumstances under which background checks will be conducted by the university for purposes of evaluating an individual’s eligibility to be engaged in employment or in a particular position, and the processes that will be followed to assure that candidates and employees are treated fairly when such checks are conducted.


Background checks are completed for all new employees (except otherwise noted herein) and some current employees and volunteers, as further described below.

CSU retains the right to conduct background checks of current employees when it has reasonable grounds to do so, and when it is required to do so pursuant to state or federal laws, rules, and regulations.


Minor Candidates

Minors age 17 and under are not subject to pre-employment background checks at the time of hire.

International Candidates

International Candidates with no United States employment or resident history may undergo a background check to the extent that information is reasonably available to lead to a worthwhile background check.

 Non-Student Hourly Candidates

Deans and Vice Presidents have the option to waive the background check requirement for non-student, temporary, hourly employees who (1) will be working off-campus for the duration of their employment; (2) will be employed by CSU for no more than nine months in one calendar year; and (3) will not work in a position with Sensitive Conditions (see definition below).


Affiliate: An individual who is not a CSU employee or student, but is affiliated with the university by contract or agency relationship, and who is not paid through the university’s payroll system. Affiliates include visiting faculty, student media, contractors, collaborators, and all other persons with access to university systems.

Candidate: An applicant for employment or volunteer position to whom the university wishes to offer the position contingent upon successful completion of a background check.

System for Award Management (SAM) Check: The process of reviewing the federal government’s web-based system that identifies parties excluded from receiving or working on federal contracts, certain subcontracts, and certain types of federal financial and nonfinancial assistance and benefits.

Minor: A person who is 17 years old or younger.

Sensitive Conditions exist when employees, volunteers, and affiliates:

  1. Work with vulnerable populations (i.e. minors or animals);
  2. Work with controlled substances, select agents or other sensitive research materials/information;
  3. Have unsupervised access to residence halls or other secure facilities; or
  4. Have access to Sensitive Information.

Sensitive Information: Information or knowledge essential to the university’s mission and functions, the loss or compromise of which would have an unacceptable impact to the institution or an individual. Sensitive Information includes, but is not limited to, personally identifiable information such as social security number, financial account number, student identification number, home address, passport number, computer account/password information, and any other information identified as “Sensitive Identifying Information” under the Colorado State University Red Flags Policy; and information that is protected by applicable privacy laws such as HIPAA, FERPA, or GLBA, as described in the university’s Personal Records Privacy and Security Policy.

Volunteer: An individual who is not an employee and who is providing a service to CSU without expectation of remuneration.


Colorado State University (CSU) strives to provide a safe study, work, and living environment for its faculty, staff, volunteers and students. To support this environment and comply with applicable laws and regulations, CSU conducts background checks. The type of background check conducted varies by position and can include, but is not limited to, criminal (felony and misdemeanor) history, sex offender registry, motor vehicle history, financial history, and/or education verification. Background checks will be conducted when required by law or contract and when, in the discretion of the university, it is reasonable and prudent to do so.


Responsibility for Cost of Background Check Services

Colleges/Units will be charged for all background check services other than those specifically required by this policy.

Required Background Checks

New Hires:

All newly hired or rehired individuals are required to have the following background checks:

  1. Criminal history background check;
  2. Sex Offender Registry check;
  3. An Education Verification when the position requires a specified degree and the department wishes for and will pay for an education verification check;
  4. Financial history check if the position is involved in distributing student loans;
  5. SAM check; and
  6. A Motor Vehicle Record check for positions that: 1) require a valid driver’s license (or Commercial Driver’s License), or 2) require the employee to drive a motor vehicle as a regular part of their job responsibilities, or 3) require use of a state-owned vehicle for the purpose of conducting university business.

Persons offered an Affiliate position or a Volunteer opportunity are required to have the following background checks when the individual is new to the University and is expected to be in that status for more than one semester:

  1. Criminal history background check if the position meets one or more of the Sensitive Conditions;
  2. Sex Offender Registry if the position works with minors;
  3. Motor Vehicle Record check as required.
Existing Employees:

The following background checks may be required for existing employees who experience a significant job change via either movement into a new position or assumption of new responsibilities in their current role:

  1. Criminal history check and/or Sex Offender Registry check if the job change establishes a Sensitive Condition where one did not exist previously and either of these check was not performed within the preceding 12 months;
  2. Motor Vehicle Record check as required;
  3. Education check if the position requires a specified degree, if one has never been completed on the Candidate, and the hiring authority indicates a need for and a willingness to pay for the education check;
  4. Financial history check if the position requires the distribution of student loans and a financial history check was not performed in the preceding 12 months.
Rehired Employees/Break in Service:

A break in service of an individual’s employment, contract, or other relationship with the university of 12 months or less does not necessitate a new background check unless the individual returns to an assignment requiring a check(s) which was not performed within the preceding 12 months. Sabbatical leave, maternity leave, military leave, and other types of university-approved leave, do not constitute a break in service.

Failure to Consent

Candidates will be notified of the background check requirements in the posted notice of the job opening, and will be asked to consent to such check after being offered the position (and prior to finalization of the employment decision). Failure to consent to a background check will disqualify the Candidate from employment. A Candidate who fails to provide the necessary information or who provides false or misleading information may be disqualified from further consideration. A final offer of employment is subject to the successful completion of the background check. Later discovery of false or misleading information related to the background check may subject the employee to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Evaluation of Resulting Report

The following are among the factors considered when evaluating the results of the background check:

  1. Nature and gravity of the criminal offenses reported, if any, and the nature of the risk associated with such offenses;
  2. Time since conviction, completion of sentence or any other remediation;
  3. Discrepancies between the background check results and what the Candidate self-reported. The determination that a Candidate or employee has provided false or misleading information (including omission of a criminal conviction) on the application or in the hiring process will normally result in denial of or separation from university employment.


All employees are responsible for ensuring the integrity and confidentiality of the background check process. Information will be shared only with those persons or agencies with a legitimate need to know. (For example, federal law may require sharing information with a federal agency).

Recruitment Notices

Job announcements must include notification of the background check requirement, and Hiring Authorities must provide notice to Candidates who are subject to this policy. A posting template can be accessed at: http://oeo.colostate.edu/eeo-and-background-check-statements.

Background Checks Otherwise Required

State or federal law or regulations, professional associations, licensing entities, or contracting partners may impose background check requirements upon certain individuals at the institution.

Adverse Action Procedures

If information is revealed in a report resulting from a background check permitted under this policy that could potentially result in an adverse employment decision, Human Resources (HR) will take the following steps:

  1. Pre-Adverse Action Notice: HR will notify the Candidate or employee in writing that negative information was revealed during the background check process which may impact the employment decision, and will provide a copy of the supporting report to the Candidate or employee along with a copy of "A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act." The Candidate or employee will be provided no less than five days to challenge the information provided in the report and take steps to correct inaccuracies or provide explanation.
  2. Decision Stay: A final employment decision shall not be made until the Candidate's or employee's new information has been considered or such time that the Candidate or employee fails to respond as required.
  3. Adverse Action Notice: If, after considering any Candidate or employee response, HR determines that the negative information revealed results in an adverse employment decision, a second written notification will be sent to the Candidate or employee. This notice shall include the following:
    1. the name, address, and phone number of the vendor Consumer Report Agency (CRA) that supplied the report;
    2. a statement that the CRA supplying the report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and
    3. a notice of the individual's right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information the CRA furnished, and his or her right to an additional free consumer report upon request within 60 days and to dispute with the CRA the accuracy or completeness of any information in the consumer report.

Self-Reporting Requirement

  1. All employees, Affiliates, and Volunteers in positions requiring a background check under this policy, whether or not “grandfathered” in without such a check, are required to notify HR upon final conviction of a felony or a misdemeanor in any jurisdiction. HR will notify the employee’s department of the conviction only if HR determines that the conviction is reasonably related to the employee’s fitness or ability to carry out the duties or functions of his or her position. Such convictions may subject the employee to discipline, up to and including termination, and/or additional background checks and rechecks at periodic intervals. Failure to report such incidents may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
  2. Employees subject to motor vehicle checks must report any suspension, revocation, cancelation, or expiration of their driver’s license to HR. If the occurrence is the subject of a legal or administrative proceeding, and the employee has the legal right to continue to work and to operate a motor vehicle while the action or proceeding is pending, then the report shall be made upon final disposition of the action or proceeding. Such convictions may subject the employee to discipline, up to and including termination, and/or more frequent motor vehicle checks. Failure to report such incidents may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.
  3. Hiring Authorities or Supervisors notified by an employee of a post-employment criminal conviction, suspension or revocation of their driver’s license, have an obligation to report the information to HR.

Contractor Responsibility for Conducting Background Checks

Contractors performing Sensitive Conditions work for CSU are responsible for conducting background checks on all of their employees, agents, and subcontractors that will provide services to CSU, and, upon CSU’s request, certifying that such employees and agents have satisfactorily completed the background check.

Required Contract Provision:

The following provision shall be included in all CSU contracts with Sensitive Conditions:

Contractor acknowledges that Contractor’s activities involve heightened risks as a result of access or exposure by Contractor's employees or agents to one or more security sensitive environments. Contractor expressly acknowledges that Contractor shall take all commercially reasonable measures to mitigate any such risks, which measures shall include but are not limited to conducting criminal history checks, Sex Offender Registry check, financial history checks when appropriate, and reference checks on all employees or agents who will be performing work at the University. Upon University request, Contractor shall certify in writing that it has complied with this provision and that all employees, agents, and subcontractors performing work hereunder have satisfactorily completed Contractor's background check.

If a Contractor’s employee or agent fails to satisfactorily complete a background check, or if any negative result is obtained that the Contractor or CSU determines to be disqualifying for the work to be performed, then, at CSU’s option, and in its sole discretion:

CSU may terminate the contract and pay Contractor only for the reasonable value of the services performed and/or deliverables provided as agreed up to and including the termination date; or

CSU may request Contractor to assign another employee or agent to perform the work.


Compliance with this policy is required. Failure to comply may result in sanctions up to and including termination of employment. Assistance with compliance is provided by the Department of Human Resources (contact information above).


Fair Credit Reporting Act—Federal Fair Trade Commission Guidance


CSU Human Resources Background Check Procedures and Forms


Revised effective October 24, 2014

Revised effective April 30, 2009

Effective 10/1/2008



Print Version: Click Here to Print

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