If you’ve just recently lost your employment, you may be thinking about whether you have a wrongful termination case. South Carolina is an at-will work state meaning that your employer can fire you at any time for no reason at all. However, there are exceptions to that rule. Some of the exclusions are listed below and include but aren’t limited to:
According to federal law, your employer can’t fire you based on race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age – if you’re at least 40 years or older, disability, citizenship status, or genetic data.
However, your employer must have a minimum number of employees for these laws to be in effect. Most discrimination is illegal if your employer has at least 15 employees. The minimum is 20 employees for age discrimination and 4 employees for citizenship status discrimination.
In South Carolina, if employers have at least 15 employees, it’s illegal to discriminate against any employee based on race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, age – 40 and older, disabilities, and genetic data.
Additionally, your employee cannot fire you or retaliate against you if you’re exercising your rights. As an example, if you complain to your Human Resources Department that you think your age caused you to be passed over for a promotion in favor of someone younger, your employer cannot fire you for complaining.
Wrongful Termination After Firing
The same thing applies if you’re fired because you took part in an investigation of a complaint of discrimination, no matter whether it was you or a co-worker who made the complaint. Nor can your South Carolina employer retaliate against you or fire you for testifying in court in a discrimination case, or if you are making other efforts to stop any discrimination in your workplace.
Before you can file a lawsuit for retaliation or discrimination, you must first file a complaint with the right government agency. The South Carolina Human Affairs Agency handles all discrimination complaints and enforces South Carolina’s laws as they pertain to discrimination.
In some cases, the Human Affairs Agency in South Carolina may record the complaint you made to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC) who are in charge of enforcing the federal laws in regards to discrimination. However, you must follow up and make sure your complaint was recorded with the EEOC. If your complaint wasn’t recorded, you might want to do that yourself.
Breach of Contract in South Carolina
In cases where your employer has signed a contract with you that promises you will have job security, you are no longer considered to be an at-will employee. Also, South Carolina does acknowledge implied employment contracts that may be based on an oral commitment, any statement in an employee handbook such as an employee would not be terminated without first receiving written or verbal warnings. In these cases, you may be owed those procedures before your employer terminates you.
Hour and Wage Issues in South Carolina
South Carolina does not have its minimum wage law. This means that you, as an employee, are entitled to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Additionally, South Carolina doesn’t have an overtime law, which means that under federal law, anyone who works more than 40 hours per week may receive overtime.
In some states, laws require employers to provide meal or rest breaks. South Carolina doesn’t have these requirements; however, under federal law, employers who do provide their employees with breaks of 20 minutes or less must pay the employee for that time.
In South Carolina, it’s illegal for your employer to fire you if you choose to exercise your rights under federal wage and hour laws.
Taking Time Off Work in South Carolina
Federal laws allow you the right to take some time off work for certain obligations and your responsibilities. In South Carolina, these rights include, but aren’t limited to:
- Military Duty: You have the right under federal law to take up to five years of leave from your job to serve in the military and the right to be reinstated when you return to work. In South Carolina, if you are a member of the South Carolina National Guard and the South Carolina State Guard, you are entitled to unpaid leave if you are called to active duty by the governor.
- Jury Duty: In South Carolina, you are entitled to unpaid leave if you are called for jury duty. If your employer fires or penalizes you in any way, you may be able to file a wrongful termination lawsuit and be entitled to special damages.
Family and Medical Leave
In South Carolina, you are protected by the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). This Act required your employer, if they have more than 50 employees, to provide you, if you’re eligible, for up to 12 weeks off, unpaid, every year for a severe health problem, to care for a family member with serious health issues, to care for your newborn child, or to take care of some issues that pertain to your spouse’s or family member’s military service.
Call a Greenville Employment Lawyer Today
If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, you should talk to a South Carolina employment lawyer. The Greenville, South Carolina attorneys at the Briggs Law Firm will discuss your options with you whether you want your job back, a settlement, or to file a lawsuit. They will help you protect your legal rights.