Background Check Policy

As of January 1, 2012, Williams College will conduct background checks on all candidates offered positions of employment with the college.  The College also will conduct a background check on any current employee who is offered a promotion or transfer which, in the college’s discretion, warrants such a check.  The College also will conduct periodic background checks on employees with financial responsibilities and employees or volunteers who may have unsupervised access to children.  The College also may conduct a background check on any current employee as to whom the college otherwise has reasonable cause to believe that a background check is warranted.   The College also will conduct any such additional background checks as are required by law.

Background checks will be conducted by the college or by a reputable third party consumer reporting agency.  All background checks will be conducted in compliance with federal and state law.  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.

The background check generally will include a review of information from an individual’s previous employer(s), educational institutions, law enforcement agencies at the federal, state and county levels; and in some cases credit reporting agencies.

Background checks may include but are not limited to:

  1. Review of criminal records
  2. Verification of social security number
  3. Verification of educational records
  4. Verification of employment records
  5. Sexual offender registry search
  6. Credit history (for positions with financial responsibilities)

For new hires, background checks ordinarily will be processed at the time a conditional offer of employment is made.  For transfers and promotions, the background check ordinarily will be processed at the time a conditional offer of transfer or promotion is made.

In each case in which a background check will be performed, the individual will be asked to complete and sign a release authorizing the college and/or third-party vendor to conduct the background check.  If the individual fails to sign the release, any offer for employment, promotion or transfer will be rescinded, and any current employment with the college may be terminated.

Background check reports will be obtained and reviewed by Human Resources, who may review the information with the appropriate member of senior staff, the college’s legal counsel, or others with a need to know.

If an individual is to be denied employment, promotion or transfer wholly or partly because of information obtained in a background check, the individual will be so informed in advance of any adverse action.  In addition, where required by law and to the extent applicable, the individual will be given (a) a copy of the relevant background check report, (b) a summary of the individual’s legal rights concerning the background check report, and (c) the name, address and phone number of the third-party vendor if the individual has questions about the results of the report or wants to dispute the accuracy of the report.  (Note, however, that the vendor does not make employment decisions and will unable to provide any individual with specific reasons as to why the adverse action was taken.)

Any questions concerning this policy may be directed to the Office of Human Resources.

Approved: December 2011