Wrongful Termination Lawyers Serving Spartanburg and Greenville, SC
Even though South Carolina is an “at-will” employment state – meaning your employer can fire you for virtually any reason, or no reason at all, – you may still have legal remedies if you have been discharged. If your employer fired you in violation of the law, you may be able to bring a legal claim that can seek lost wages and benefits and other relief.
To learn more about your rights, contact Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C. We have a long history of protecting the rights of workers in Spartanburg, Greenville and areas throughout Upstate South Carolina, including those who have been wrongfully terminated from their jobs.
When Is an Employee’s Discharge Illegal in South Carolina?
An employee’s firing can be illegal in many situations. One of the following may apply to your case:
- You have an employment contract – If you were working under a contract that set out a specific term of employment, your employer may be in breach of that contract. In some instances, the contract may set out compensation you are entitled to receive if you are prematurely dismissed from your position. These are more common in education and coaching as well as in executive positions.
- Your termination violates public policy – If you were fired for refusing to break the law, for instance, this would violate public policy. An example would be refusing to engage in illegal billing practices.
- Your termination violates a state or federal statute – Several laws protect the rights of workers in “protected classes.” For instance, you cannot be fired on the basis of your race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including pregnancy), age (40 or older) or disability. You also cannot be fired for taking unpaid medical leave through the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or for filing for workers’ compensation benefits. You cannot be fired for missing work when you have been subpoenaed to appear in court as a juror or as a witness. Additionally, you cannot be fired for reporting discrimination, harassment, workplace safety violations, defrauding of the federal government or wrongdoing by state government agencies.
If you believe that your termination falls into one of these categories, it will be crucial for you to seek legal help right away. You may need to take immediate steps in order to protect your rights, including the right to file a lawsuit in state or federal court. An attorney can advise you on the process you should follow.
Proving a Wrongful Termination Case in South Carolina
A wrongful termination claim in South Carolina presents many challenges. Your employer may respond to your claim by providing an alternative, perfectly legal reason for your discharge. The burden may then shift to you to establish that your employer’s reasons are a mere pretext.
In some cases, you may not have been fired, but your employer may have demoted you, changed your job duties, harassed you or otherwise made your continued employment unbearable, forcing you to leave the position. If the conditions were so bad that no reasonable person would have stayed, you may have been constructively discharged.
You (or your attorney) may need to track down an extensive amount of evidence to establish your wrongful termination claim, including:
- Performance reviews
- Records of pay raises or decreases
- Employment handbooks
- Witness statements (depositions and affidavits)
Depending on the nature of your employment as well as the theory behind your wrongful discharge lawsuit, you may also need to go through an administrative process first before your case goes to court. In other words, you may first need to file a formal complaint or charge with a state or federal agency.
For example, if you believe you were fired for discriminatory reasons, you would be required to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC). You would be able to file a lawsuit only after you received a “right-to-sue” letter from one or both of these agencies.
You may be required to file your complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency within a certain number of days after your termination. Then, after receiving your “right-to-sue” letter, you may face another time period in which to file a lawsuit. This is called the “statute of limitations.”
Remedies Available in a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit
If you prevail in your wrongful termination claim, you may be able to recover lost wages and benefits or seek other relief, including:
- Getting your job back
- Forcing your employer to change its practices.
If you pursue your case in federal court, in some cases you may also be able to recover pain and suffering and punitive damages or certain damages set forth in the statute you claim was violated.
Contact Our Upstate South Carolina Wrongful Termination Attorneys
An employment law attorney from Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins, P.C., can conduct a thorough review of your case and help you to determine whether you have a valid wrongful termination claim. If so, we can take efficient and effective steps to seek relief for you.
To learn how we can put our legal team’s decades of combined legal experience to work for you, contact us today. We are available to provide a timely consultation.
Sources / More Information
- Filing a Complaint, South Carolina Human Affairs Commission