In light of recent current events and changes in the judiciary, many LGBTQ+ people are concerned about their rights and their place in society. One of the primary areas of concern is employment law, given that as of this writing, protections against sexual orientation discrimination are a somewhat confusing patchwork of laws and regulations that are applied unevenly across the United States. Someone who is LGBTQ+ would be well served by understanding the laws in their locality, though South Carolina’s specifically can be complex.
Few Current Employment Protections
As of this writing, the Human Rights Council reports that no protections for LGBTQ+ employees are on the books in South Carolina. At the state level, this is accurate. However, this does not include counties, smaller municipalities, and private employers, many of which have taken it upon themselves to enact resolutions to protect their LGBTQ+ workers. Richland County and the city of Myrtle Beach were among the first. Some, like the city of Folly Beach, prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.
Despite these positive steps, this still means that the vast majority of LGBTQ+ employees in the state have no recourse in state law if they are discriminated against unless they work for an employer who has anti-discrimination provisions in its code of conduct. This can cause serious problems for LGBTQ+ workers, who as a community face higher rates of poverty and homeless than heterosexual adults in the same age range. Many LGBTQ+ workers are not out at work, and such a state of affairs conditions continued secrecy not asked of their heterosexual counterparts.
Federal Law Is Confusing
In many situations, if a certain characteristic is not covered by state laws, the agreed-upon remedy for a mistreated worker is to bring a claim with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). However, since the advent of the current administration, policy has been somewhat disjointed, potentially leading to opposing rulings, or to rulings that are not necessarily enforced as they should be. In July 2017, the EEOC and the Department of Justice (DOJ) came down on opposite sides of a case, with the EEOC arguing that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 did apply to LGBTQ+ workers, while the DOJ argued it did not.
There is a discrepancy between what the EEOC holds to be accurate and the law as the DOJ knows it to be. This can possibly mean that charges brought to the EEOC will not be pursued in the same manner as they might otherwise have been. If the DOJ does not believe Title VII applies to cases involving sexual orientation discrimination, it will not choose to prosecute them.
Get Help From An Experienced Attorney
In this day and age, being LGBTQ+ can be frightening. One way to help protect yourself is to be familiar with the law before it becomes a potential problem. Contacting an attorney can be a step in the right direction. A. Christopher Potts is well versed in employment discrimination issues and is happy to sit down with you to help answer questions you may have about your situation. Contact Hitchcock & Potts today to set up an appointment.