A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
setback
The distance between a property boundary and a building. A minimum setback is usually required by law.
setoff
A claim made by someone who allegedly owes money, that the amount should be reduced because the other person owes him money. This is often raised in a counterclaim filed by a defendant in a lawsuit. Banks may try to exercise a setoff by taking money out of a deposit account to satisfy past due payments on a loan or credit card bill. Such an act is illegal under most circumstances.
settlor
See grantor.
severability clause
A provision in a contract that preserves the rest of the contract if a portion of it is invalidated by a court. Without a severability clause, a decision by the court finding one part of the contract unenforceable would invalidate the entire document.
severance pay
Funds, usually amounting to one or two months' salary, frequently offered by employers to workers who are laid off. No law compels employers to provide severance pay, although the employer may be legally obligated to do so if it was promised in a contract or employees' handbook.
sexual harassment
Unwelcome sexual advances or conduct on the job that creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. Sexual harassing behavior ranges from repeated offensive jokes to a workplace full of pornography to outright sexual assault. Sexual harassment is prohibited by the federal Civil Rights Act of 1991 as well as state laws.
shared custody
See joint custody.
shared equity mortgage
A home loan in which the lender gets a share of the equity of the home in exchange for providing a portion of the down payment. When the home is later sold, the lender is entitled to a portion of the proceeds.
shareholder
An owner of a corporation whose ownership interest is represented by shares of stock in the corporation. A shareholder -- also called a stockholder -- has rights conferred by state law, by the bylaws of the corporation and, if one has been adopted, by a shareholder' s agreement (often called a buy-sell agreement). These include the right to be notified of annual shareholders' meetings, to elect directors and to receive an appropriate share of any dividends. In large corporations, shareholders are usually investors whose shares are held in the name of their broker. On the other hand, in incorporated small businesses, owners often wear many hats -- shareholder, director, officer and employee -- with the result that distinctions between these legal categories become fuzzy.
shareholders' agreement
See buy-sell agreement.
short sale (of house)
A sale of a house in which the proceeds fall short of what the owner still owes on the mortgage. Many lenders will agree to accept the proceeds of a short sale and forgive the rest of what is owed on the mortgage when the owner cannot make the mortgage payments. By accepting a short sale, the lender can avoid a lengthy and costly foreclosure, and the owner is able to pay off the loan for less than what he owes. See also deed in lieu (or foreclosure).
shotgun charge
See dynamite charge.
sick leave
Time off work for illness. Most employers provide for some paid sick leave, although no law requires them to do so. Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, however, a worker is guaranteed up to 12 weeks per year of unpaid leave for severe or lasting illnesses.
sickness benefits
See disability benefits.
slander
A type of defamation. Slander is an untruthful oral (spoken) statement about a person that harms the person's reputation or standing in the community. Because slander is a tort (a civil wrong), the injured person can bring a lawsuit against the person who made the false statement. If the statement is made via broadcast media -- for example, over the radio or on TV -- it is considered libel, rather than slander, because the statement has the potential to reach a very wide audience.