No one ever wants to have to file a claim against an employer, but it does happen. If it does, it can feel extremely overwhelming. A brief overview of the process can help to get one’s thoughts in order and make it clearer how best to attack the problem. You deserve the best chance possible to have your claim heard, so that you can be made whole if it is determined you have been injured. In this post, we’ll discuss two primary ways to file an employment discrimination claim in South Carolina: filing an EEOC claim vs an SCHAC claim.
Multiple Ways To File
There are two agencies in South Carolina that accept employment discrimination complaints, though they work closely with each other. The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) accepts complaints and will focus primarily on violations of state law. The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) deals more with complaints based on federal law, such as Title VII complaints. You can apply to either, in theory, as complaints will be referred to the agency that can best help you see your complaint to an appropriate conclusion.
Note that there is a time limit for filing a charge. You must file a claim against an employer within 180 days of the incident if you intend to file with SCHAC, or within 300 days if you choose to file with EEOC. This time limit is in place regardless of the law you believe has been broken, and whether it is state or federal. Whichever you choose, the agency will review your complaint to make sure that there is a basis to believe a law has been broken. If there is cause to go forward, they will do so—or refer you to the agency that can assist you to do so.
The Agency Will Not Represent You
Once you have filed an EEOC claim or SCHAC claim, the agency will usually try to see if mediation is possible as a method to settle your claim. If it is not, they will investigate the feasibility of taking such a claim to trial. However, it is important to understand that in all but the most egregious of cases, the EEOC or SCHAC will not take it on themselves to prosecute. The most likely outcome in your case, if it is determined that you experienced actionable discrimination, will be that you are granted a “right to sue” letter by the relevant agency after that period of investigation.
A right to sue letter is a document issued by the agency. It effectively states that the EEOC or SCHAC has investigated the claim at issue and found that one exists, but that they lack the time, resources or inclination to prosecute themselves. Granting you a Notice of Right to Sue means that the agency will no longer act on your claim, so if you wish to bring suit in civil court, you can do so without potentially damaging any agency investigation.
Be advised that the agency declining to prosecute your claim themselves does not necessarily mean you have no chance of prevailing at trial. It merely means that they must pick and choose their cases carefully and devote their resources to those it finds easiest to win.
Seek Experienced Legal Counsel
It is possible to go through this process alone, but there is no reason that anyone should have to. A knowledgeable, compassionate employment discrimination attorney can help answer your questions and guide you through what can be a long, frustrating period of time. Attorney A. Christopher Potts is well versed in these types of cases, and can help you guide yours to an appropriate outcome.
Contact our Charleston law office today to schedule an appointment.