As a qualified Charleston employee or job applicant, you deserve fair treatment. Unfortunately, employment discrimination still happens. People of color overhear racial slurs made by supervisors, and women get sexually harassed by their bosses. Disabled people lose their jobs, and those in various protected groups get passed over for promotions.
South Carolina employment law is on your side in these situations, and you may be entitled to compensation. Regardless of who your employer may be, our Charleston employer discrimination attorneys at the Shelly Leeke Law Firm can protect you if you’ve been discriminated against or harassed on the job.
Employment Laws in Charleston Regarding Discrimination
Employment law in Charleston is governed by federal and state laws and also local regulations. Under South Carolina state law and federal law, discrimination in the workplace is clearly prohibited.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on an employee or job applicant’s race, color, national origin, religion, or sex (actual or perceived). Other federal laws protect against discrimination based on disability or age. In addition, the South Carolina Human Affairs Law prohibits employment discrimination, including
- Harassment or inequitable treatment based on race, color, national origin, sex (including pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment), religion, age (40 years and older), and disability
- Retaliation after an employee makes a discrimination complaint or participates in or assists with an investigation of employment discrimination
- Refusing to make reasonable workplace accommodations to help with a disability or to accommodate the observance of religious beliefs
Filing a Charleston Discrimination Claim Under Federal or State Law
When considering a workplace discrimination complaint, the first decision to make is whether to file a claim under state or federal law. Charleston employees can bring a workplace discrimination claim to either the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) or the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
While both agencies can provide relief for discrimination victims, many consider a federal complaint to be more favorable. This preference is mainly due to the fact that South Carolina employment law limits compensatory and punitive damages. That said, cases filed in a state court are still subject to federal employment law and could end up in federal court.
When processing workplace discrimination claims, state and federal agencies cooperate under something known as a work-sharing agreement. Because of this partnership, filing a complaint with both agencies is not necessary so long as the employee specifies that they want their claim to be cross-filed with the other agency.
Time Limits for Reporting Workplace Discrimination
In the state of South Carolina, you technically have 300 days to report workplace discrimination. In order to move forward with your case, you must file within that designated timeframe. However, it’s best to file as soon as possible due to other deadlines.
For example, SCHAC guidelines state that you must file with that agency within 180 days from the day you experienced the discriminatory act. However, if that deadline has already passed, you may still have an additional 180 days in which you can file with the EEOC. An experienced employer discrimination lawyer in Charleston can help you comply with all applicable deadlines.
What You Could Recover as an Employer Discrimination Victim
The damages you may be owed in a discrimination case will vary based on the type of discrimination that took place. In general, you could receive compensation for the following:
- Unpaid wages and benefits you should have gotten if you were fired wrongfully or if a hostile environment prevented you from coming to work
- Money from raises or promotions you were unjustly denied
- Physical or psychological damage you sustained
When you hire us to represent your interests, we will do our best to estimate the total value of your case so that you can pursue fair compensation.
Hostile Work Environment Cases
The term hostile work environment gets thrown around a lot to describe work environments where people are simply rude or unkind. Clearly, some companies have a less desirable work culture than others. However, for hostility to be illegal, it must involve unfairly targeting a member of one of the protected categories of Title VII.
Even when that is the case, there are two additional factors that you and your Charleston employer discrimination lawyer must prove. First, harassment or discrimination must be “severe and pervasive.” This stipulation means that one idle comment, however offensive, isn’t grounds for a lawsuit.
Second, the inappropriate conduct must be committed by management, or management must be aware or should have been aware of the situation. If an authority figure had an opportunity to stop the discrimination or harassment but did not, they could be held responsible for condoning the behavior.
Wrongful Termination in South Carolina
Wrongful termination generally refers to a situation where an employee is fired when they should not have been, but it is a term that is widely overused. Often, terminations may seem “wrongful” but are not illegal. To be considered improper, the employer’s behavior must be covered by a specific law or cause of action.
As is the case in most other states, employment is “at will” in South Carolina. This means that the employee or the employer can terminate the employment relationship at any time for almost any reason, as long as it is not illegal. The same legal principle that allows an employee to quit at any time also allows an employer to terminate employment.
That said, employers can still be held liable for the consequences suffered by an employee because of unfair labor practices, including discrimination and harassment. Our employment discrimination attorneys will explain your rights and advise you on how to achieve the best possible outcome in your situation.
The Employment Law Litigation Process
In some cases, the grievance process settles the dispute. At other times, an EEOC complaint is needed. We can continue pursuing your case for as long as it takes. Our firm has extensive litigation experience in every level of state and federal courts in South Carolina, and we can take a case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if we have to.
Whether you contact a Charleston employer discrimination attorney about an unequal pay issue or another discrimination matter, you’ll benefit from our team’s aggressive representation and unwavering determination to get justice for our clients. Every situation is unique, and one of our attorneys can help determine whether you have a strong case.
Employment Law Services in Charleston, South Carolina
Unfortunately, some HR departments are more concerned about what is best for the company than what is fair and right. If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment, there are things that need to be done now to protect your interests, such as gathering documentation like memos and e-mails.
Before you make a costly misstep in the claims process, contact our Charleston employer discrimination attorneys for advice. Our initial consultation is free, so there’s no risk in allowing us to review your case. If you need an employment law attorney for any reason, we want to hear your story. Reach out to Shelly Leeke Law today.