A person in South Carolina who believes they have been discriminated against by their employer or a person associated with their employer has two major options to resolve the potential issue, and in many situations, they are attempted one after the other. A person usually tries to resolve the issue in-house, and then if such remedies are not effective, they may bring a charge to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Here is some information to help you understand the EEOC charge process in South Carolina.
Administrative Requirements Before Lawsuits
Both South Carolina’s Human Affairs Law and the federal Civil Rights Act (Title VII) require that rather than going directly to court and filing suit for wrongful termination or another civil claim, administrative remedies must be exhausted between employer and employee beforehand. This is where filing an EEOC charge comes in. The EEOC is neither a court nor a law enforcement agency; rather it is an administrative review board of sorts that investigates the validity of claims and whether or not they should be brought in court – in other words, whether there is enough evidence to warrant a lawsuit.
Depending on the nature of your employer, you may decide that rather than going through the EEOC charge process, it is more efficacious to file your charge with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC). Either action will fulfill the administrative requirements, as the EEOC has relationships with state agencies, referred to as FEPAs (Fair Employment Practice Agencies), which are designed to essentially duplicate the charging process, so that not everything has to be handled through the main EEOC office.
Evaluation & Decision
Once a charge is submitted to either the EEOC or the SCHAC, multiple avenues may be pursued. Some cases, for example, wind up in the EEOC’s mediation program, if the relevant authorities think that it may be a successful way to deal with the complaint. Others go straight to what the EEOC calls the response stage, in which the employer is asked for its version of the events in your complaint. The agency investigates the relevant information – they may ask for documents or conduct interviews with personnel, depending on what they feel the situation requires.
Most of the time, the EEOC simply has more charges filed than it can possibly maintain actions for. Thus, most charges will end in what is called a Notice of Right to Sue letter, granting you the right to bring a civil suit against your employer in court. This does not mean you have a poor case; it simply means that the agency does not believe it will be able to successfully prove the law has been violated. While the odds are somewhat low, you may triumph in spite of the odds. Either way, once an EEOC investigation is concluded, any administrative requirements that must be met before a lawsuit can be said to have been fulfilled.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help
While the EEOC charge process is fairly straightforward, it can still be confusing, and filing a lawsuit can be infinitely more so. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has years of experience in handling employment discrimination claims, and is happy to put his North Charleston law firm to work for you. Contact the office today to set up an initial appointment.