In South Carolina, the at-will employment doctrine states that an employer can fire anyone at any time for any reason. However, in the recent past, some exceptions to this rule have emerged. Exceptions to the at-will doctrine can come from one or two different sources:
1. The South Carolina courts modify or make standard law protections
2. The South Carolina legislature can enact statutory protections.
South Carolina Statutory Protections
Legal protections in South Carolina are specific and are meant to address certain areas, such as discrimination or worker’s compensation. However, as is common in many other states, the South Carolina legislature may lack the foresight to take care of every possible type of workplace retaliation. Common law protections tend to fill the gaps where the government has failed to enact statutes that address the issue.
South Carolina Public Policy in Regards to Termination
However, even though South Carolina is an at-will work state, in some cases a public policy exception will take precedence. For example, your employer cannot terminate you for a reason that’s in clear violation of public policy. If they do, you may have a case involving wrongful discharge.
However, the courts in South Carolina, have been rather narrow when interpreting public policy. You and your South Carolina workplace retaliation lawyer must be able to prove that you were fired for a reason such as:
- You refused to break the law on behalf of your employer
- You refused to participate in illegal activities as requested by your employer.
- Your firing itself violated criminal law.
South Carolina Statutory Protections
The South Carolina General Assembly has recently taken a narrow stance in statutory protections for specific activities. For example, if you took part in protected activity under the law in the following subject areas, you are protected from retaliation. Those areas are:
- Occupational Health and Safety
- Worker’s compensation
Common Law Protections in South Carolina
You cannot be fired for a reason that violates a mandate of public policy. These include:
1. Refusal to Violate the Law
2. Refusal to Participate in Unlawful Conduct by Your Employer
3. Filing a Complaint Under South Carolina Wage Laws
What Activities Have Statutory Protection in South Carolina?
The following activities are protected by statute in South Carolina:
1. Discrimination: You cannot be fired or discriminated against in retaliation for standing up against any unlawful discriminatory practice by your employer. You also cannot be fired or discriminated against in retaliation for filing a complaint, testifying, assisting, or participating in any investigation or hearing under the South Carolina Human Affairs Law.
2. Occupational Health and Safety: You cannot be fired or discriminated against in retaliation for the filing of a complaint, starting a proceeding, testifying, or exercising your rights concerning an occupational safety and health concern.
3. Public Employees: If you are a federal or state employee, you cannot be fired or discriminated against in retaliation for filing a report that has to do with any wrongdoing to the proper authorities.
4. Worker’s Compensation: You cannot be fired or discriminated against in retaliation for starting any proceeding or testifying at a hearing under the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation law.
Call a South Carolina Employment Law Attorney Today
If you believe you’ve been a victim of workplace retaliation, you need to contact Greenville, South Carolina workplace retaliation lawyers at the Briggs Law Firm. They have the knowledge, skill, and experience to assist you with your claim. Keep in mind that any lawsuit regarding workplace retaliation must be filed within three years from the date the retaliatory action took place unless otherwise stated in a South Carolina statute.