Ensuring the safety of college and university campuses has become a priority nationwide. St. Thomas has recently joined with other institutions of higher learning in adopting a “best practice” of conducting background checks for new hires that will occur beginning this coming academic year.
The policy, which was endorsed by the Deans’ Council and administrative staff, is intended to assist hiring officials in evaluating the suitability of a final candidate for employment at St. Thomas, said Terri Sheehan, employment services manager in Human Resources. “The safety of our employees and the students they serve is of the utmost concern,” she said. “Requiring a background screening of all new employees is an important precaution.”
Screenings will be conducted for any final external candidate to whom hiring officials have confirmed a written job offer. The external candidate must sign a background screening disclosure, authorization and release form. The new policy is not retroactive and will not apply to most internal candidates for new positions; however, current employees may undergo a background screening if they move to a position that already requires it (e.g., positions in the Child Development Center or Residence Life).
In the past, St. Thomas did not have a universitywide background screening policy; instead, departments or units decided on a position-by-position basis if they would require a screening of the final candidate. The new university background screening process will be conducted by a third-party vendor (Orange Tree), and screening will include a Social Security trace, searches of education, credentials, employment history, professional licenses and certifications, employment references, criminal records and sexual offender registries.
Background screenings will be done in accordance with applicable laws, including the Minnesota Access to Consumer Reports law and the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act.
If a candidate is not hired due to unfavorable background check results, Human Resources will provide him or her a copy of the screening report within three working days to allow the candidate an opportunity to refute the report information. All documents related to the screening will remain confidential.
The complete background screening policy is posted on the Human Resources website. For more information call Terri Sheehan in Human Resources, (651) 962-6493.