Background Checks

Date: May 2018

Policy: Bowdoin College strives to ensure a safe learning, working, and living environment for its staff, faculty, and students. In support of these efforts, Bowdoin requires background checks to be completed for all new employees, whether part-time, full-time, regular, or casual.

All candidates, for faculty, staff, and casual positions, that are offered employment at Bowdoin College are subject to pre-employment background checks. Pre-placement physicals are required for certain positions. Employment may not begin until Bowdoin has received and reviewed all results. Failure to consent to a background check or pre-placement physical will disqualify the candidate from further consideration.

Transfers/Internal Job Changes: For current Bowdoin employees who change jobs, a background check, and pre-placement physical if needed for the position, will be required if one was not previously conducted as part of the original hiring process, or if additional checks are required for the new position (i.e., driving is an essential function of the new position; the new position entails cash handling therefore a credit check is required; the physical demands are greater or different such as a Dining employee transferring to the Mailroom, etc. ).

Rehires: Former employees who are rehired will be subject to a background check, and pre-placement physical as determined by the position.

Employees who have been inactive on the College payroll for a period of 9 months or more, and have not been terminated from employment, are subject to a new background check, and pre-placement physical as required.

Violations of College policies, including providing false or misleading information on Bowdoin’s application materials (by either omission or falsification of information), may result in denial of employment, withdrawal of an employment offer, or termination of employment.

Scope of Background Check

The level and type of background checks vary based upon the position. The standard checks for all positions include criminal history, social security number trace, and national sex offender search. Additional information, based upon the responsibilities of the position, may include education verification, credit history check (for positions in the Controller's Office, Investment Office, Treasurer's Office, IT, and/or when cash handling is required), professional license verification, and motor vehicle record check.

Motor vehicle record checks will be run only for positions in which driving a Bowdoin vehicle or rental car is an essential function of the job. Please click the following link for additional information regarding our current Motor Vehicle Use Policy.

Employees of the College have an ongoing obligation to inform Human Resources of any misdemeanor or felony convictions during their employment.  Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

Background Check Procedures

Bowdoin College has partnered with a third party provider, HireRight, to conduct background screening checks. The College complies with all applicable laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).

  • The job posting on Bowdoin's career site will identify the name of the background check package required for that position. A detailed list of specific checks included in each package is referenced below. Support Staff: Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor, National Sex Offender Registry, and Social Security Number Trace
  • Support Staff + MVR: Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor, National Sex Offender Registry, Motor Vehicle Record Check, and Social Security Number Trace
  • Support Staff + Credit: Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor, National Sex Offender Registry, Credit Check, and Social Security Number Trace
  • Support Staff + MVR + Credit: Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor, National Sex Offender Registry, Motor Vehicle Record Check, Credit Check, and Social Security Number Trace
  • Faculty/Administrative Staff: Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor, Education Verification, National Sex Offender Registry, and Social Security Number Trace
  • Administrative Staff + MVR:  Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor, Education Verification, National Sex Offender Registry, Motor Vehicle Record Check, and Social Security Number Trace
  • Administrative Staff + Credit:  Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor, Education Verification, National Sex Offender Registry, Credit Check, and Social Security Number Trace
  • Administrative Staff + MVR + Credit:  Criminal Felony and Misdemeanor, Education Verification, National Sex Offender Registry, Motor Vehicle Record Check, Credit Check, and Social Security Number Trace

The FCRA requires the College to disclose to the employee or applicant that it intends to obtain a consumer report from a third party agency for employment purposes.  If an offer is extended prior to the completion of the required checks, the offer will be contingent upon successful completion of satisfactory results.

Prior to conducting background checks, consent will be obtained from the candidate or employee. Candidates or employees who refuse to give permission to any form of required background check, refuse to provide information necessary to conduct the background check, or provide false or misleading information in regard to the background check, will not be considered for the position.

3. If the background check reveals potentially troubling information (see "Considerations" below), the candidate or employee will have an opportunity to dispute the accuracy of the information obtained in the background check (including criminal records) before any adverse action is taken. A dispute will not necessarily impact the hiring decision. Bowdoin will provide the applicant or employee with a Pre-Adverse Action Notice indicating that adverse action may be taken, along with a complete copy of the report and a notice of his or her rights under the law. A candidate or employee disputing the accuracy of the information will then have five (5) business days to conclusively demonstrate the inaccuracy of the information. The College’s Human Resources Department may grant extensions on a case-by-case basis. If after five (5) business days the candidate or employee does not respond, or fails to adequately dispute the background check results, he or she will no longer be considered for the position.

4. If the decision is made not to hire the candidate based in whole or in part on information obtained in the background check, a Final Adverse Action Notice will be sent by Human Resources to the applicant, along with an additional copy of the background report, a written description of the employee or applicant’s rights under the FCRA, the contact information of the consumer reporting agency, a statement that the agency did not take the adverse action and cannot explain why it was made, and a notice of his or her rights under the law.

All information received in the background investigation process will be maintained by Human Resources and the Hiring Manager/Department Head in the strictest possible confidence, separate from employee personnel files, with access allowed only on a need-to-know basis.

Background Check Considerations

When reviewing a candidate’s criminal history check which reveals prior criminal convictions, Bowdoin will consider the following:

1. Nature and gravity of the offense(s) 
2. Frequency of offense(s)
3. Relevance of the offense(s) to the essential functions of the job
4. Duration of time since the offense(s) took place
5. Discrepancies between the background check and what the candidate self-reported

Criminal convictions/adverse findings will not automatically exclude an applicant from consideration for employment.

Pre-Placement Physical

Pre-placement physicals are required for positions on campus that have a physical requirement to the work. Employees hired into these positions (e.g. a new hire, transfer, promotion, or re-hire) are screened for these physical requirements to identify whether they can perform these elements of the essential functions safely. The job requirements are based primarily on the managers informed assessment of the physical demands and essential functions of the position. In addition, a periodic review of the physical job requirements may be completed by an external organization (e.g. Orthopedic Associates) at the discretion and direction of human resources.

Before a newly created position is posted, the job description and physical requirements of the position are reviewed by the hiring manager and a determination is made with human resources as to whether a pre-placement physical is required.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that pre-placement physicals be completed after a conditional job offer is made and prior to the start of work. If an individual does not satisfactorily pass the physical, Human Resources will make a final review of the job requirements and capacity for the employee to safely perform them with or without accommodation, and make a determination whether or not to hire the individual.