Whistleblowers can play a major role in ending corruption in both the public and private sectors. However, whistleblowers can sometimes face unjust retaliation from their employers, and have no idea that they have potential recourse to deal with this unfair treatment. If you have participated in a whistleblower suit or another oversight of your employer, you should know that you have a right to be protected against retaliation. Contact the law firm of Hitchcock & Potts to help you hold your employer accountable.
Is Your Activity “Protected?”
Any employee, regardless of where they work or who they work for, has certain rights that allow them to engage in protected activity. This is true even when that activity might run afoul of employer policy or simply run counter to what their employer wants to do. “Protected activity” can include several types of actions, including (but not limited to) the following:
- Being a witness in an internal harassment investigation
- Refusing to act in a way that would be discriminatory
- Requesting accommodation for a disability or religious belief
An employer may react negatively to the mere fact of employee participation in any of these acts. Keep in mind that retaliation against whistleblowers does not take only one form—essentially any kind of negative employment action may qualify, depending on the specific situation, but all of it may be actionable. Pay cuts, demotions, terminations, and anything that cannot be adequately justified with a non-discriminatory rationale may possibly be evidence of retaliation, and the burden is on the employer to explain why these actions are not discriminatory.
South Carolina vs Federal Law
Both South Carolina law and federal law protect whistleblowers from all walks of life, though it is important to cite the correct law that covers you should you choose to make an employer retaliation claim. South Carolina has two specific whistleblower statutes, one for all employees and one for public employees only. The law governing public employees only deals with misuse of public assets or funds, which would not apply to private-sector employees. However, the other law covers any and all employees in the state.
Also keep in mind that South Carolina has what is called a “public policy exception” to its general policy of at-will employment. In other words, most employees can be terminated at any time and without cause in South Carolina—but an employee may not be terminated if it would be against public policy to do so. This means that no employee can be terminated over, say, refusing to break the law or participate in discriminatory treatment, as it would very much not be in the public interest to allow that.
Call An Employment Discrimination Lawyer
Our system thrives on people who are willing to stand up and do the right thing, and those people should not be treated unfairly as a result. If you believe you have been discriminated against due to whistleblowing or other protected activity, contacting a South Carolina employment discrimination lawyer at the firm of Hitchcock & Potts is a good first step toward having your employment retaliation claims heard. Experienced attorney A. Christopher Potts is happy to assist you. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.