The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws that protect Americans from workplace discrimination. However, those rules and their enforcement vary between states. Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) laws and regulations in South Carolina give employees access to official complaints, investigations and lawsuits. Employment discrimination is prohibited by the South Carolina Human Affairs Law. According to the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC), this law protects employees and applicants from:
- Harassment or poor treatment: Employees can’t be targeted for race, gender, age, ethnicity, disability or religion. This protection extends to conditions like pregnancy and treatment like sexual harassment.
- Rejection of accommodations: If you have a disability or religion that requires reasonable workplace accommodations, your employer must try to provide those accommodations.
- Retaliation: If you issue a workplace discrimination complaint or take part in an investigation or lawsuit, your employer may not retaliate against you.
If you’ve experienced discrimination in your workplace, you may file a Charge of Discrimination. The EEOC and SCHAC have a work-sharing agreement that lets employees cross-file their claims, which means the two agencies can process them with increased efficiency. Many South Carolina attorneys recommend filing with SCHAC and indicating that you want your claim cross-filed.
What Are the EEOC Laws in SC?
Equal employment opportunity laws are the cornerstone of inclusive, respectful workplaces. Prohibited discrimination applies to employees and applicants. Equal employment opportunity laws apply to most employers and other entities under the EEOC’s coverage guidelines.
Types of EEOC Discrimination
EEO laws and regulations in South Carolina apply to every aspect of employment, including:
- Advertising a position: When searching for new employees, job advertisements may not specify that they are looking for applicants of a specific gender, race, age, etc. Identifying any category that can’t apply also breaks the law.
- Recruiting: An employer is responsible for recruiting new employees without discriminating against any identity. For example, word-of-mouth recruiting in predominantly Caucasian or male social spheres cannot be an employer’s only method. The employer would have to recruit in other, more inclusive ways.
- The application and hiring process: Employers must give applicants of all races, ethnicities, religions, genders, etc. an equal employment opportunity. Refusal to hire a qualified applicant on any of those grounds is illegal.
- Assigning jobs and promoting employees: An employer may not show preferential treatment that harms their other employees’ chances for promotions, shift assignments and other work opportunities.
- Determining wages and benefits: Gaps in compensation that stem from discrimination violate South Carolina’s EEOC regulations.
- Disciplining and discharging employees: Punitive measures and grounds for firing must be consistent across employees of all races, genders, ages, etc.
- Making accommodations: Employees have the right to request reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. The same freedom applies to religious needs. If an employer refuses to consider those requests because of their prejudices, they are discriminating against their employees.
- Training: If an employee’s training or apprenticeship program suffers due to their employer or supervisor’s bias, that qualifies as EEO discrimination.
- Daily operations: Any form of discriminatory harassment during an employee’s workday directly violates EEO laws and regulations. This type of harassment includes the use of slurs, inappropriate physical or verbal conduct and destruction of an employee’s personal property. Harassment that creates a hostile work environment or impacts an employee’s career is illegal.
- Offering terms and conditions of employment: Conditions like approving leave or granting breaks cannot depend on an employee’s identity or their characteristics.
- Pre-employment proceedings and inquiries: An employer cannot ask certain questions or require specific information before offering employment. Matters regarding disability, race and other information unrelated to the applicant’s qualifications are inappropriate and often illegal.
It’s crucial that you file your claim as soon as possible. Preserving your claim under state law requires that you file within 180 days. This deadline applies to claims filed with either EEOC or SCHAC. It’s also valid for claims cross-filed between organizations. If you’re filing your claim under a federal regulation instead, you must file with the EEOC (or cross-file) within 300 days of your experience.
Some legal claims have shorter deadlines, so you should always file as early as you can. You can file your claim without legal representation. However, hiring an attorney is a strategic move that makes the process easier.
Filing a Complaint
You should file a complaint if you believe your workplace violated EEOC regulations in South Carolina. You can choose how you file. If you prefer to file with a physical copy, you cancomplete the form as a PDFand mail, fax or deliver it to SCHAC at 1026 Sumter Street, Suite 101, Columbia, SC 29201. You can also file your complaint with SCHAC online.
By filling out this complaint questionnaire, you are not filing a Charge of Discrimination. Instead, this form allows SCHAC to process and analyze your claim. If it’s in their jurisdiction, they prepare the Charge of Discrimination for you. You must sign and return the charge for official filing. Completing this form also does not contact your employer. Your information is confidential at this stage, and your employer won’t be contacted until after an employee files a charge.
You must file a charge for an investigation or lawsuit to take place. When SCHAC processes your charge, they’ll cross-file it with the EEOC in South Carolina.
Contact Lauren Taylor Law if You Experience EEOC Discrimination
EEO laws and regulations in South Carolina are complex. Filing discrimination claims can be intimidating, and the processes that follow are even more complicated. Hiring legal representation in the form of a private attorney is the best way to protect your interests. Before you file your claim with SCHAC and the EEOC, you should reach out to an experienced lawyer who can help you fight for your rights.
Lauren Taylor is a passionate, knowledgeable attorney based in South Carolina. As the founder of Lauren Taylor Law, she has two offices, one in Charleston and one in Greenville. Ms. Taylor is a stellar attorney who specializes in divorce and criminal defense cases.
Discrimination is more than a violation of EEO rules and regulations. It’s a violation of your human rights. Connect with us today to begin the process toward filing your claim. You can contact our team online or by phone at 843-790-9009 .