6.20 – Employment Background Reviews

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Scope: NMSU System

Source: ARP Chapter 6 | HR - Hiring, Work Rules and Assignments

Responsible Executive: Vice President Administration and Finance

Responsible Administrator:

Last Updated: 07/15/2008



Revision History:

2017 Recompilation, formerly Rule 4.30.05
07/15/2008 Amendment ratified by Board of Regents
07/08/2008 Amendment adopted by the Administrative Council
09/08/2006 Policy adoption ratified by Board of Regents
04/11/2006 Policy approved by the Administrative Council

In order to create a safe and secure workplace and to ensure that New Mexico State University employees are qualified to perform the duties and responsibilities of the positions they hold, the university has adopted a background review Rule. The Rule and procedures are set forth below:



Background reviews, depending upon the position, may include:

  1. Credential verification (academic degrees, certification, professional licenses, etc.)
  2. Criminal history and identity (Federal, State and Local)
  3. Employment references
  4. Consumer credit reports
  5. Drug testing
  6. Social Security Number traces
  7. Motor vehicle driving history



  1. The following employees will be subject to background review:
    1. All regular employees who are hired, rehired, transferred, promoted, reclassified, or appointed to interim positions. Rank promotions of tenured, tenure track and non-tenure track faculty are not subject to a background review upon promotion.
    2. University employees competing for vacancies through an external search process.
    3. University employees changing positions from faculty to academic administrative or to administrative status.
    4. Graduate assistants, teaching assistants, post doctoral appointments, temporary employees, student employees, volunteers (with the exception of 4-H volunteers) and affiliates with significant responsibilities listed in the NMSU Sensitive Duties Checklist. A background review will be conducted at the initial time of hire. Employees holding positions in any of these categories will not be subjected to another background review unless there is a break in employment of one year or more.



For short-term hires of 30 days or less (no extensions), a waiver may be granted by human resource services. However, the department head/director is responsible for ensuring that the employee does not perform duties listed in the NMSU Sensitive Duties Checklist without adequate safeguards.



Potential candidates, including graduate assistants, teaching assistants, post doctoral appointments, temporary employees, emergency hire employees, student employees, volunteers (with the exception of 4-H volunteers), and affiliates that disclose a felony conviction will be subject to a background review prior to a final offer of employment.



A signed Background Check Release Form is required as part of the application process and must be present before any background review may be conducted.



Any background review report that reveals adverse information on an applicant or employee shall not automatically disqualify a candidate for the position being sought or held conditionally pending results of review.



Any material misrepresentation or omission on an application document may be grounds for rejection of the application, termination of employment, or refusal of subsequent employment consideration with the university.



Additional employment reviews may be required by law, regulation, or contract.



Background review information findings are to be regarded as highly confidential and will be released only under conditions consistent with applicable law.



  1. Determination Regarding Nature of Background Review: When a department initiates any action requiring a background review, the hiring department will coordinate with Office of Human Resource Services to determine the type(s) of background review(s) to be conducted.
  2. Requirements for Job Posting and Application Packet: All job postings must contain notice that background reviews will be performed on the finalist. The application packet required of candidates must include a Background Check Release Form to be considered a complete application.
  3. Hiring Department Duties: The hiring department is responsible for obtaining the following information on finalists when required for the position:
    1. Educational credentials: Verify through official transcripts the highest (terminal) degree of final candidates.
    2. Employment references and past performance: Check and document at least three of the relevant references listed on the application or resume. Verify work dates, job titles, work experience and performance of candidates.
    3. Professional license or certifications: If a position requires a license or certification(s), such as a licensed practical nurse, contact the responsible licensing board (local or national) to verify and document that the candidate has a current and valid license or include this in your background review request.
  4. Initiation of Post-Offer Background Review Process: Once a finalist is selected, the hiring department will forward to Human Resource Services a completed permission to offer, Employment Background Review Request Form, a copy of the a Background Check Release Form, pertinent application materials, and Sensitive Duties Checklist. The Office of Human Resource Services will work with the hiring department to coordinate the appropriate background reviews.
  5. HRS Coordination with NMSU’s Vendor: The Office of Human Resource Services will coordinate requests to external vendors for the applicable background review checks and will note on the Employment Authorization Form the date the authorization was received and the date the request was made to external vendors. The Office of Human Resource Services will review all background review reports received.
  6. Non-Adverse Information Discovery: If background review reports are non-adverse, the Office of Human Resource Services will notify the hiring department that the offer may be finalized or, if the individual is currently working, that the background check has been successfully completed and the hiring process is finalized.
  7. Adverse Information Discovery: If the background review reports produce any information that might be considered as a cause for an adverse employment action, the Office of Human Resource Services will work with the hiring department, appropriate dean/vp and Office of the General Counsel to evaluate the value of the information against the total past employment record and future employment potential. These parties will assess the relevance of the information to job duties, the date of the offense(s), the nature of the offense(s), and the accuracy of the information the individual provided on the employment application. If consensus cannot be reached, the provost and chief academic officer (or designee) will make the final decision.
  8. Pre-Adverse Action Notice Process: If the information is deemed relevant and prompts the university to consider taking adverse employment action (i.e., denying employment, reassignment, or termination), the Office of Human Resource Services, in compliance with Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), is required to forward a New Mexico Pre-Adverse Action Notice to the applicant that includes a copy of the individual’s background report and a copy of “A Summary of Your Rights Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.” The Pre-Adverse Action Notice will provide the candidate an opportunity to challenge the information provided in the report and take steps to correct inaccuracies or provide explanation. A final employment decision will not be made by the hiring department until all information is gathered and considered, or at such time as the applicant fails to respond as required. A minimum of five days for an applicant to refute, explain or correct the information is required.
    1. Notice to Applicant: The Adverse Action Notice forwarded to the applicant must include:
      1. The name, address, and phone number of the reporting agency.
      2. A statement that the agency supplying the report did not make the decision to take the adverse action and cannot give specific reasons for it; and a notice of the individual’s right to dispute the accuracy or completeness of any information the agency furnished, and the right to receive a free additional consumer report from the agency upon request within 60 days, and to dispute with the reporting agency the accuracy or completeness of any information in a consumer report furnished by the agency.
  9. Retention of Records: The Office of Human Resource Services will manage and retain employment background review information. Information collected on successful applicants will be stored separately from the official employee files. Information collected on unsuccessful applicants will be stored with the candidates’ application materials and retained for three years. Documents related to employment background review information collected by hiring departments will be filed and maintained in the departments and destroyed three years after rejection for unsuccessful candidates or three years after termination or retirement for successful candidates.
  10. Coordination Required: All hiring departments should contact the Office of Human Resource Services for further assistance if information obtained from a consumer report is to be used to take adverse action against a candidate or employee.