Employment Discrimination Lawyers Serving Spartanburg and Greenville, SC
Do you believe that your employer fired you, demoted you or took some other adverse action against you based simply on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age (40 or older) or disability? If so, you should be aware of important steps you must take to protect your rights.
Under both South Carolina and federal law, you can file a formal complaint against your employer. If the complaint fails to remedy the issue, you can seek relief through a lawsuit.
Strict timelines apply to employment discrimination claims. So, it is crucial to act without delay. Contact the law firm of Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C. Our attorneys have decades of combined legal experience with helping workers in Spartanburg, Greenville and throughout Upstate South Carolina with standing up for their rights. We can meet with you right away.
Were You Discriminated Against at Work?
State and federal law (Title VII of the Civil Rights Act) prohibit employers from engaging in practices and policies that discriminate against protected classes of workers.
Unfortunately, discrimination often arises in the context of discharging or disciplining a worker. For example, if you and a co-worker both committed the same offense on the job – for example, you both clocked in late – you may have a valid discrimination complaint if the employer punished you (and not the other worker) due to your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age or disability.
However, employment discrimination may arise in many other situations, including those that involve:
- Advertising or recruiting for a position
- Application and hiring
- Job assignments or promotions
- Job reviews or appraisals
- Failing to make reasonable accommodations (for one’s disability or religion)
How Do You Prove Employment Discrimination in South Carolina?
Proof of discrimination varies from case-to-case. Sometimes there is direct evidence of discrimination based on something that was written or said. Other times there may be a neutral policy that has an unfair impact on a protected class. More often, however, you must establish that:
- You are a member of a protected class.
- You experienced an adverse action.
- You were treated differently than similarly situated individuals not in your protected class under similar circumstances.
If you can establish these facts, your employer will then have to provide some valid, non-discriminatory reason for its actions. Even if the employer meets this burden, you may still be able to prove that the employer’s reason is merely a “pretext” for its discrimination.
Establishing a case can be highly complex. It may require seeking court orders to obtain copies of human resources records, e-mails and other documentation. It may also require obtaining numerous statements from executives, supervisors and co-workers. This is why it will be important to work with an experienced attorney.
What Steps Must You Take to File an Employment Discrimination Lawsuit in South Carolina?
If you suspect that you have been discriminated against at work, you should raise the issue with your employer. Make a note of the date that you believe the discriminatory act occurred. Also, note the date you made a complaint to your employer and what you discussed. Be sure to follow, and document, all steps of any non-discrimination policy your employer may have in place.
Should these steps fail to remedy the problem, the next step you must take is to file a formal complaint with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC). If you file the complaint with only one agency, make sure to ask the agency to “cross-file” with the other one.
This step is very important. You must file with the SCHAC within 180 days of the date of the alleged discrimination, or else you will be barred from pursuing a claim in state court. You must file with the EEOC within 300 days of the discriminatory act, or else you will be barred from taking action in federal court. Only after you have filed this charge of discrimination, and “exhausted your administrative remedies,” can you pursue a lawsuit. The agency that receives your case will conduct an investigation into your complaint. It may arrange for you to go through a mediation (settlement) conference with your employer.
At the end of this process, the agencies will issue what are commonly called “right to sue” letters. You must file a lawsuit in state or federal court within 90 days of getting this letter from the EEOC. You must file a claim in state court within 120 days of your letter from the SCHAC or within one year from the date of discrimination – whichever comes first. In a lawsuit, you would typically seek relief that could range from getting your job back to getting back pay. In federal court, you may seek additional damages such as pain and suffering. The state court action is tried before a judge, while you may have a jury decide your case in federal court.
Contact Our Upstate South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorneys
As you can see, employment discrimination cases require thorough investigation and close attention to following the proper procedure. An attorney’s assistance can be crucial.
If you suspect that you are a victim of discrimination at your job, do not wait to get help. Call Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., or reach us through our online form. We can provide a consultation and give your case the careful review and attention it deserves.
Sources / More information
- Title 1, Administration of Government (Chapter 13, State Human Affairs Commission), South Carolina Legislature
- Employees & Job Applicants, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission