Clarifacts

Glossary

Glossary

Find definitions to common background screening terms.

Feel like you need a law degree just to read some background screening reports? At Clarifacts, we make it easy to understand every element on your report. We have also developed the following employment screening glossary for some of the most common terms you may encounter.

There can be numerous terms associated with employment background check reports, so if you have more detailed questions, just give us a call – we are happy to help.

Select a letter below to skip to definitions, or keep scrolling:

A B C D E F G H I J L M N O P Q R S T U V W


Adverse Action
An action denying an applicant employment based in whole or part on any information contained in a consumer report (background verification report).

Affirmative Action
United States regulations require employers to prepare affirmative action plans that are intended to provide equal employment representation within their workforce, with respect to ethnicity, gender and age.

Alias
False name used in substitution of a legal name on official documents and for official purposes. Nicknames are not considered aliases. May be noted as AKA (Also Known As) on criminal records.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
This Act prohibits employers with U.S. operations from discriminating against applicants or employees with disabilities.

Amend
To change or revise, usually to the wording of a written document such as legislation or court order.

Applicant
An individual seeking employment.

Arbitration
The hearing and settlement of a dispute between opposing parties by a third party whose decision the parties have agreed to accept.

Arrest Warrant
A written order of the court which is made on behalf of the state, or United States, and is based upon a complaint issued pursuant to statute and/or court rule and which commands a law enforcement officer to arrest a person and bring him before a magistrate.

Assault
Intentional or threatened infliction of injury to another. The classification of “aggravated” is assigned when the injury is considered serious or when injury is threatened or carried out with the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon. The classification of “simple” is assigned when the injury inflicted or threatened is not serious and a deadly weapon is not used. May be used with Battery.


Bankruptcy
Refers to statutes and judicial proceedings involving persons or businesses that cannot pay their debts and seek the assistance of the court in getting a fresh start. Under the protection of the bankruptcy court, debtors may discharge their debts, perhaps by paying a portion of each debt. Bankruptcy judges preside over these proceedings.

Bench Warrant
Process issued by the court or “from the bench” for the attachment or arrest of a person.


Candidate
An applicant for a job who has been pre-qualified for a specific position or a general category of jobs. Also used to distinguish an individual from a pool of unqualified applicants.

Certified Copy
A copy of a document or legal paper on which the person who holds the original has signed and stated that this copy is true, correct, and exact.

Civil Case
A case between private litigants concerning personal wrongs, generally where the losing party must compensate the prevailing party with money or other property. Examples of civil cases include personal injury, landlord-tenant issues, breach of contract and property disputes. A civil plaintiff may be also be asking the court to tell the defendant to stop some behavior or to do a specific thing. An attorney may represent both the plaintiff and the defendant, unless filed as a small claims case.

Concurrent Sentence
Upon conviction for multiple crimes, a criminal sentence served at the same time as another criminal sentence, rather than one after the other.

Consecutive Sentence
Upon conviction for multiple crimes, criminal sentences that must be served one after the other, rather than at the same time.

Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA)
A credit bureau that gathers and provides information about individuals — such as if they pay their bills on time or have filed bankruptcy — to creditors, employers, and landlords. Companies that perform employment screening services are also considered CRAs and are governed by the FCRA, as are the employers that use such services.

Conviction
The result of a criminal proceeding in which it is the judgment of the judge or jury that the accused is guilty of an offense. Often used to differentiate between one convicted of an offense or where one enters a plea of guilty on an offense charged.

Cost-per-hire
A common measure used in human resources to evaluate the average costs incurred in recruiting and hiring new employees. Generally the equation is total recruitment costs divided by total number of new hires. Typical components of this measure include relocation costs, advertising/job board fees, interviewing expenses, referral bonuses, recruitment staff compensation, skills assessment and pre-employment screening.

Criminal Case
A charge filed by a prosecutor against a defendant concerning violation of a criminal law. The act of violating a criminal law is an offense against the community, not a private wrong. Examples of criminal cases include assault, theft and murder.


Damages
Money paid by defendants to successful plaintiffs in a civil case to compensate the plaintiffs for their injuries.

Default Judgment
Under Rules of Civil Procedure, when a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead (i.e., answer) or otherwise defend, he is in default and a judgment by default may be entered either by the clerk or the court.

Defendant
A person charged with a crime or a person against whom a civil action is brought.

Dismiss
Termination of a case. The court may enter an order dismissing a case for cause or the prosecuting attorney for the state may dismiss the matter for reasons such as lack of evidence, death of a witness, or because the matter is to be re-filed due to the original indictment being defective, etc.

Disposition
The act or the power of settling a matter finally; to bring something to its conclusion.

Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA)
A federal law that regulates how information from DMV records can be released and shared. The DPPA regulates how motor vehicle departments release driver records and vehicle records. The DPPA also regulates how a recipient of DMV records can share information with another party.


Employee
A worker performing services in exchange for compensation who meets the common law test. See also “Independent Contractor.” Under Common Law, anyone who performs services for an individual or company (employer), where the employer can control what will be done and how it will be done. This applies even when the employee is given freedom of action.

Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA)
Prohibits the use of polygraphs for private sector employment screening

Employer
The entity or individual that controls the work that is performed by its workers and provides compensation to these workers in exchange for the services they provide.

Employer Identification Number (EIN)
In the United States a company is typically defined as a business enterprise that has a unique federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) for payroll tax reporting purposes.

Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEO)
Legislation which requires United States employers to provide equal employment opportunity to all persons regardless of ethnicity, gender or age.

Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
In the United States the EEOC requires that most companies file one or more reports from a series named EEO-1 through EEO-9. These reports include counts by federal employment categories of male and female employees in certain ethnic groups.

Exempt
Employees classified as “exempt” are typically salaried employees (but don’t have to be), and fall into specific types of jobs such as executives, administrative professionals, or outside salespersons. These employees are not eligible for overtime pay, but do have to be paid at least the minimum wage (figured on an average weekly basis.) There are also exempt classifications for jobs that are seasonal such as employees of amusement parks, the fishing and agriculture industries, casual employees such as babysitters and other caregivers, and others. The law varies with each group, so check with state and federal requirements when classifying employees as exempt and non-exempt.

Expunge
Process by which the record of a criminal case is destroyed or sealed after expiration of time.


Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)
The FCRA is federal law designed to protect individuals, by promoting accuracy, fairness, and privacy of information in the files of every Consumer Reporting Agency (CRA). Companies that perform employment screening services are governed by the FCRA, as are the employers that use such services.

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
A federal regulation governing several time and labor issues. FLSA Overtime requires that all non-exempt employees be paid at a rate of time-and-one-half for all hours over 40 physically worked during a workweek. State or local laws may supersede this requirement when the lesser law is to the greater benefit of the employee, or by union contract. An FLSA Workweek is a permanently established, regular workweek for a group of employees.

Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
A federal regulation that protects health benefits and job restoration for employees who must take a leave from work to care for themselves or family members. FMLA regulations contain provisions regarding employer coverage, employee eligibility and entitlement, notice and certification, continuation of health benefits, and job restoration.

Felony
A serious criminal offense for which the minimum sentence is one year.

Fine
A monetary penalty, which may include a forfeiture or penalty recoverable in a civil action, and in criminal convictions, may be in addition to imprisonment.


Guilty Plea
Formal admission in court as to guilty which defendant may make if he or she does so intelligently and voluntarily; i.e. accused can only make such plea after he or she has been fully advised of rights and court has determined that accused understands such rights and is making plea voluntarily.


Habeas Corpus
Writ (order) to bring a person before a court. In its most common usage, the writ directs a warden or jailer to bring a prisoner or person detained so that the court may determine whether such person is lawfully confined. It may also be used to bring a person in custody before the court to give testimony, or to be prosecuted.

Hearing
Going before a judge or court commissioner to request a court order.


Incarcerated
Imprisoned; confined to a jail or penitentiary.

Independent Contractor
A person or business who performs services for another person or business under an express or implied agreement and who is not subject to the other’s control, or right to control, the manner and means of performing the services.


Judgment
Final determination by a court.

Jurisdiction
The authority designating the limits and bounds of the legal right by which a judge exercises his authority to make lawful decisions. Also defined as the power or right to act. Jurisdiction refers both to authority over the subject matter, or type of case; and over the person or thing.


Lawsuit
A legal action started by a plaintiff against a defendant based on a complaint that the defendant failed to perform a legal duty, resulting in harm to the plaintiff.

Litigation
A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.


Misdemeanor
A criminal offense, which is less serious than a felony and punishable by no more than a year in jail.


Negligent Hiring
Failure to use reasonable care in the employee selection process, resulting in harm caused to others. Companies are being held liable when they hire an applicant that they knew or should have known was likely to cause harm to others. Therefore, employers are required to use reasonable care when hiring employees in order to reduce this risk.

New Hire Report
In the United States the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996 (the so-called “Deadbeat Dads” law) requires employers to report new hires to specified agencies within a pre-determined number of days from the hire date.

Non-Exempt
An employee classified as “non-exempt” typically works for hourly pay and is entitled to at least the minimum wage (figured on an average weekly basis), overtime pay at one and one half times their normal hourly rate for any hours over 40 hours per week, and other protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) including child labor laws and equal pay protection. The law varies with each group, so check with state and federal requirements when classifying employees as exempt and non-exempt.


Offense
A breach or breaking of a criminal law, either felony or misdemeanor.


Parole
The conditional and revocable release of an inmate by the Board of Paroles to parole supervision.

Plaintiff
A person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a civil action and is so named on the record. A person who seeks remedial relief for an injury to rights; it designates a complainant.

Plea
A pleading, the first pleading on the part of the defendant to the indictment as to his guilt or innocence.

Plea Bargain
An agreement between a criminal defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant admits having committed a crime. In return, the prosecutor asks the judge to impose a less severe sentence than had the defendant been convicted at a trial. The judge is not bound by the terms of a plea bargain. A plea bargain ensures that a guilty defendant is punished.

Probation
A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision as long as certain conditions are observed. Probation must automatically be considered if the defendant is eligible.


Quash
To vacate or void a summons, subpoena, etc.


Remand
To send a dispute back to the court where it was originally heard. Usually it is an appellate court that remands a case for proceedings in the trial court consistent with the appellate court’s ruling.

Respondent
The party who is responsible to answer a legal action; the defendant in an action.

Response
A formal written answer to a petition filed with the court by the respondent.

Restitution
Payments ordered by the judge to repay victims for economic losses incurred as the result of the crime (property loss or injuries). Does not include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress or other non-economic damages that can result in compensation through a civil law suit.


Sentence
A judgment formally pronounced in open court by the judge upon the defendant after his conviction in a criminal prosecution, stating the punishment to be inflicted.

Sentence, concurrent
Upon conviction for multiple crimes, a criminal sentence served at the same time as another criminal sentence, rather than one after the other.

Sentence, consecutive
Upon conviction for multiple crimes, criminal sentences that must be served one after the other, rather than at the same time.

Settlement
An agreement between the plaintiff and defendant in a civil case to resolve the dispute without a trial. Settlements often involve the payment of compensation by one party in satisfaction of the other party’s claims.

Statute
A law passed by a legislature.

Statute of Limitations
A law that sets the time within which parties must take action to enforce their rights.

Summary Judgment
A decision made on the basis of statements and evidence presented for the record without a trial. It is used when there is no dispute as to the facts of the case, and one party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.


Tort
A civil wrong or breach of a duty to another person, as outlined by law. A very common tort is negligent operation of a motor vehicle that results in property damage and personal injury in an automobile accident.


Unfair Labor Practice
Actions by the employer, which interfere with, restrain, coerce, or threaten employees with respect to their rights.

Unlawful Detainer
A court action used by a landlord to evict a tenant.


Vacate
To set aside.

Venue
Geographic location (e.g., city or county) where an event occurred. A “change of venue” happens when a case is moved to a court in another county or to a court having other jurisdictional powers — generally because the case should have been filed there originally, or for the convenience of the parties/witnesses, or because a fair trial cannot be had in the original court’s location.

Verdict
Decision of a jury or a judge on the issues submitted to the court for determination.

Versus
Lat. Against. In the title of a cause, the name of the plaintiff is put first, followed by the word “versus,” then the name of the defendant. The word is commonly abbreviated “vs.” or “v.”

Victim
Person or entity who suffers direct or threatened physical, financial, or emotional harm as a result of the commission of a crime.


Warrant, arrest
A written order of the court which is made on behalf of the state, or United States, and is based upon a complaint issued pursuant to statute and/or court rule and which commands a law enforcement officer to arrest a person and bring him before a magistrate.

Warrant, search
A written order directing the arrest of a party. A search warrant orders that a specific location be searched for items, which if found, can be used in court as evidence.

With Prejudice
A dismissal “with prejudice” forever bars the same charge arising from the same incident from being brought against the same defendant again.

Without Prejudice
A dismissal “without prejudice” allows a prosecutor to re-file the same charge arising from the same incident against the same defendant again.