If you suspect that you have experienced discrimination on the job, you may want to file an antidiscrimination lawsuit. However, in South Carolina, you may file a charge until you have fulfilled certain other requirements. The very first thing a wronged employee must do, by law, is to file a complaint with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC). Or, in some cases, you can file with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Either way, you must take your concerns to either agency before you will be allowed to file a standard lawsuit, and it can help to have an attorney to inform you about the process.
Requirements & Time Limits
Generally, the reason that South Carolina law requires an employee to file a charge with SCHAC or the EEOC before they go to court is in the hope that the dispute will be handled before it gets to a court date. Other methods of dispute resolution, such as mediation or one-on-one discussion, can help to fix the issue so that neither party has to go through the difficulty of a court case.
Either way, be advised that it is not necessary to file with both agencies—SCHAC and EEOC have what is referred to as a “work-sharing agreement,” meaning that both agencies may be privy to your paperwork—and play a role in your case’s disposition—if you specify that this is acceptable.
If you do file a charge, you should also be aware that you have a time limit, which is up to 180 days after the alleged incident if you choose to file with SCHAC. However, the limit may be up to 300 days post-incident if you prefer to file with the EEOC instead. It may seem unfair to have time limits, especially if you have recovery on your mind, but there has to be a time where authorities can draw the proverbial line. Memories tend to fade over time, and witnesses’ stories and documentation may disappear as time passes.
The Right To Sue
Once the SCHAC or EEOC have your claim in hand, they will take steps to validate your accusations to the best of their ability. For example, they have the power to summon and interview witnesses and gather relevant evidence and documents. The EEOC, in particular, has a period of time in which they have exclusive jurisdiction when it comes to your case (meaning it cannot be heard anywhere else). During that period, the organization will do as much as possible to try and both clarify the nature of the complaint and get both sides of the dispute to meet on common ground.
Once the agency has investigated your claims to their satisfaction, if it proves sufficiently groundbreaking, they will either take up your case (file a lawsuit on your behalf) or issue you a Notice of Right to Sue. Under most antidiscrimination laws, an injured employee must have a Notice in order to actually bring suit in court. If you do not, the district court will almost certainly dismiss your claim, because without a Notice of Right to Sue, your case cannot be legally recognized.
Call A Dedicated South Carolina Employment Law Attorney
We hope you have a better understanding of how to file a charge with the SC Human Affairs Commission. To tell if you have a valid case, enlisting an experienced South Carolina employment discrimination law attorney is a crucial first step. Attorney A. Christopher Potts is well-versed in these types of cases, and is ready to put that knowledge to work for you. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.