Reference and Employee Screening

All applicants for staff positions at Brown University are subject to reference checks with prior employers and/or institutions before an offer of employment is extended.

Criminal background checks will be conducted for all finalists for staff positions at Brown after a conditional offer has been made, but prior to the first day of employment. For current Brown University employees who are transferred or promoted, or who have a position reclassified, a criminal background check will be required if one was not conducted as part of their original hiring process. Employment in the position may not begin until theUniversity has received and reviewed the results.

Additional post-offer pre-employment screening checks beyond criminal history checks may be required, depending on the nature of the responsibilities of the position being offered. These additional screenings may include, but are not limited to:

Motor Vehicle Records Check Educational Credentials and Licensing Check Credit history check Drug screening test

Current employees may also be subject to employee screening checks when issues of safety/security are of immediate concern. For further information, please contact Human Resources.


Reference checks are a normal part of the hiring process. All supervisors and managers should assure that thorough reference checks are completed on all final candidates, internal and external, before an offer is made. A Human Resources Generalist is available to check references or to assist hiring supervisors in doing so. If the final candidate is a former or current employee, the hiring supervisor must contact the Human Resources Generalist to make arrangements to review the information relevant to job performance in that employee's file. Also see HR Policy # 20.011, Hiring Employees for Regular Positions.


In reviewing a finalist's criminal history records that disclose prior criminal convictions, the following will be considered:

(1) The nature and seriousness of the offenses for which the finalist has been convicted;
(2) The number of such offenses;
(3) Whether such convictions are related to the duties of the position;
(4) The accuracy of information provided by the finalist provided in the application process.

Criminal history information will be limited to criminal convictions or pleas equivalent to conviction. Such information will be used solely for the purpose of evaluating an applicant's suitability for employment, promotion or transfer. Criminal convictions or pleas will not automatically exclude an applicant from consideration for employment.

Finalists who have experienced a criminal history check as a result of their application for a position will be permitted to provide responsive information regarding their criminal conviction record, including evidence of rehabilitation, character, educational achievements, the length of time since the last criminal conviction, and other extenuating circumstances.

Employees have an on-going obligation to inform the University of any criminal conviction. Decisions regarding whether or not an individual with a conviction record should be hired into or continued in a position rests with Human Resources, in consultation with the hiring department.

Special rules apply for the treatment and reporting of drug-related crimes. For more information about current employee obligations, please see the policy on Drugs in the Workplace.


Additional screening may apply to all applicants who are finalists for certain positions identified by the University as having duties which include a risk of physical harm, financial or research loss and/or other harm to the University. Some of the criteria for identifying a position/function as possibly requiring additional checks include, but are not limited to:

Direct responsibilities for the care, safety, and/or security of humans and/or access to residences or other facilities identified as high risk. Direct responsibility for handling or managing cash or credit card information. Direct access to or responsibility for controlled substances. Responsibility as part of job duties for operating vehicles that could cause injury or accidental death. A requirement for a certificate, professional license or accreditation.


Brown University may engage a third party partner to conduct background screening checks, including reference checks. Where a third party conducts all or any portion of a background check, the University will comply with the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. All positions requiring a level of employee screening checks shall be so identified in the job posting for the position, along with the specific checks (or drug screening) which will be required. Applicants will be informed during the pre-employment process that selection is subject to completion of background screening with results acceptable to the university, and which check(s) would apply. Prior to conducting the background check(s), a signed, written consent will be obtained from the prospective employee for the position. The information obtained through employee screening checks will be maintained in a separate file in Human Resources. Hard copy results will be destroyed three years following the date of hire.

Discrepancies between the information a job applicant provides during an application process, whether for an identified position or another position, and the facts disclosed through background screening could be considered material misrepresentations and grounds for denial of employment, withdrawal of an employment offer, or dismissal of a current employee.


Finalists for positions requiring driving responsibilities or operation of University vehicles (owned, rested or leased) are subject to a background check of their motor vehicle records. Driving records will be reviewed solely for the purpose of evaluating an applicant's suitability for employment, promotion or transfer.

Finalists for and employees in positions requiring driving responsibilities or operation of University vehicles (owned, rented or leased) must complete the University Driver Authorization form. The hiring department should contact the Office of Insurance and Risk to determine license requirements. The process for completing the form includes a visual inspection of the individual's valid United States driver's license and written acknowledgement that the University may obtain the motor vehicle record of the applicant or employee from the licensing state on a periodic basis. Employees must adhere to the prompt reporting requirements regarding changes in status of license.

Finalists for positions requiring a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) must demonstrate that they will be eligible to obtain such a license upon employment. Employees in positions requiring a CDL will be subject to the federal and state laws governing the requirements for such licenses (e.g., drug screening and physical exams). MVR checks will be performed annually for drivers required to maintain CDL licenses as part of their Brown jobs responsibilities.
Failure to maintain the proper license or to report changes in status will be considered on an individual basis, but may result in an adverse personnel action.


Academic credentials and/or professional licensing/certification, as required for the position, will be verified by the hiring department.


Finalists for positions which have been identified as having access to controlled substances and not subject to professional credentialing (e.g., pharmacists, physicians, nurses), or as required by federal regulation, will be screened for controlled substances. Supervisors and managers should contact Human Resources if they believe the position requires a drug screening. HR shall make a determination on behalf of the University. If a drug screening is appropriate, Human Resources will make arrangements for the drug screening by a third-party agency. Such tests will be administered in accordance with RI and/or federal law.

Drug testing of current employees is severely restricted by Rhode Island law and will only occur in specific situations. Any supervisor or manager who has a substantiated belief or knowledge based on reasonable, observable, articulated grounds that an employee is using illegal drugs or abusing legal controlled substances resulting in impairment to properly performing job functions should contact Human Resources. No supervisor or manager may independently suggest, recommend, order or refer an employee for drug testing without the specific authorization of Human Resources. Further, if a current employee has been tested by an independent laboratory under the conditions permitted by law, an employee testing positive from an initial test cannot be terminated on that basis, but is to be referred to a treatment program. Continued use of illegal drugs or abuse of legal controlled substances can result in termination.

For some positions, comprehensive background checks are required by federal or state law or regulation. These comprehensive checks are not included in this policy.

Revised January 2008, February 2008, November 2008

Revised Effective 2-11-08