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Can I Be Fired For My Political Opinion?

With the 2020 presidential campaign under way, it is reasonable to state that tensions are running high. It can feel as if everyone has a different opinion about the best choices for the country. However, it is important to keep in mind that you cannot be fired or otherwise disciplined at work for your political opinion, at least not in South Carolina. While political opinion is not protected by federal antidiscrimination laws, it is protected under South Carolina law, so you do have options if your employer tries to police your opinions.

No “Discharge From Employment”

Federal antidiscrimination law protects people from negative employment consequences based on a handful of mostly unchangeable characteristics. For example, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects people based on race/color, gender/sex, religion, or national origin. Political opinion is not among the characteristics protected by any federal law, but it is protected under the South Carolina Human Affairs Law specifically.

The Human Affairs Law bars any “discharge from employment or occupation” based on a person’s political opinions or “exercise of political rights and privileges” that are guaranteed by law. The words “discharge” and “exercise of political rights and privileges” are not specifically defined by the statute, however, which means that most of the time, South Carolina courts will interpret these cases individually (that is, on a case-by-case basis).

Potential Penalties

If your employer tries to terminate you or force you to accept a lesser position, and you believe that it is due to your political opinions or any exercise of your political rights (such as joining protest marches on your time off), you are able to point to the Human Affairs Law as to why that is not possible. Employers can actually face both criminal and civil liability if it can be established that they discriminated against a person because of political opinion.

The Human Affairs Law makes political opinion discrimination a misdemeanor, with a possible $1,000 fine and/or two-year imprisonment sentence. This is not often carried out, but it does happen. However, a more likely outcome is civil liability. Because the law is so clear, if you have proof that your termination or discipline was due to your politics, you have a solid case for wrongful termination.

Contact A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Lawyer

You cannot be fired for your political opinion in South Carolina. If you have been disciplined or unfairly treated because of your politics, it is crucial to know that you have recourse in South Carolina. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has been handling this type of case for years, and is happy to help you with yours. Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today for dedicated representation.

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