The colloquial definition of harassment is a pervasive pattern of joking and teasing. In the workplace, however, a claim of harassment requires that specific criteria be established before any kind of redress can be made. Below, we will be defining harassment in terms of employment claims. If you believe that you are experiencing harassment on the job, it is crucial that you are able to articulate what has happened to you so that the appropriate agency can take action.
What Is Harassment?
One of the ways that a person in South Carolina can legally establish discrimination is by proving that a hostile work environment exists, and harassment is a major component of a hostile work environment. Under state law and past cases, harassment effectively exists when verbal and physical mistreatment is both severe and frequent. Essentially, if a reasonable person cannot perform their job while being subjected to a certain standard of treatment, that “standard” generally constitutes harassment.
The major factor that many employees are unaware of before filing a harassment claim is that the mistreatment must be based on a protected characteristic—anything that is covered under the South Carolina Human Affairs Law or Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, such as race, religion, or gender. In June 2020, the Supreme Court also held that Title VII’s prohibitions on discrimination due to sex also cover LGBTQ+ workers. In short, if you are being repeatedly mistreated based on a protected characteristic, you may be able to claim a hostile work environment.
Filing A Charge
If you believe that you are experiencing harassment on the job, the questions to ask are (1) whether you are still able to perform your job or not; or (2) whether you must endure this kind of treatment in order to keep your job. Either situation is grounds for filing a complaint with the Human Affairs Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), depending on the alleged reason for the mistreatment. You will generally have 180 days from the date of the incident to file, though that can be extended depending on your specific situation.
If your dispute is resolved in your favor, South Carolina law may force your employer to rehire you (or promote you), as well as remitting back pay and other benefits. However, it can take quite some time to reach a resolution, as both agencies take their time and do their due diligence in investigating both sides of your allegations. It is often a good idea to consult an experienced attorney in these matters to get an idea of how the process will go.
Contact A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Lawyer
Defining harassment in terms of employment claims is important. If you believe you have been the victim of this kind of treatment because of a protected characteristic, you do have options to try and seek redress. The firm of Hitchcock & Potts has been handling this type of case for many years, and attorney A. Christopher Potts can try to offer you assistance in getting through yours. Contact our firm today to schedule a consultation.