Columbia University Background Check Policy

Policy Statement 

Columbia University is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for our community, including students, visitors and employees, as well as safeguarding the assets and resources of the University. In support of this effort, any applicant for a University position who is a finalist for a position will undergo a bifurcated background check in accordance with New York City and New York State laws. Rehires with a break in service of more than six consecutive months, will also be required to undergo a background check.

A background check will consist of a criminal record search (including the 50-state sex offender registry), education, and employment verifications. Some applicants will also be required to undergo drug testing, motor vehicle, fingerprinting, or an unscored credit check depending on the nature of the position. Applicants for such positions will be notified of this requirement when an offer of employment is made. The background check will be completed and the selected finalist must be cleared by CUHR or CUMC-HR before commencing employment at the University. Applicants are not permitted to begin working until the background check clearance is issued, unless an exception is approved in advance by the VP of Human Resources or his or her designee.

Any information that is falsely reported or omitted by an applicant or an employee, may be cause for withdrawal of an offer of employment, promotion or transfer and/or constitute cause for termination of employment and disqualification of future hire.

Employees covered by this policy are required to report to CUHR or CUMC-HR any criminal convictions that take place during the course of their employment, excluding infractions punishable only by a fine. Failure to promptly report such convictions may lead to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Current employees whose position changes as a result of a transfer, promotion, or reclassification may be required to undergo a background check, including if one was not conducted when initially hired or if a new background check is needed because of the nature of the position.

    This policy applies to officers of administration (including variable hours officers), union and non-union support staff, and casual employees. In addition, employees identified as being part of the Protection of Minors at Columbia will be background checked every two (2) years.

    NYP Joint Commission Mandates:

    In order to provide a safe environment for patients and compliance with the accreditation requirements of the Joint Commission, NYP mandates that background checks must be conducted for all staff, students and visitors who have direct patient contact in NYP space.

    Additional Requirements for employees, visitors, students (including CU, Barnard and TC students) who are located in space that falls under NYP Joint Commission mandates:

    • Pre-employment physical (through Workforce Health & Safety)
    • Drug screening. Officers will receive a drug screening under the medical surveillance protocol. All support staff are checked at time of hire.
    • License verification (if applicable)
    • Departmental orientation (may not apply to visitors or students)