On March 11, 2020, the Greenville County Council sunsetted a 1996 anti-gay ordinance, drawing cheers from supporters in the council meeting. While the council did not pass any kind of affirmative resolution supporting the LGBTQ+ community, the decision is still seen as a victory by adherents, especially at a time where being LGBTQ+ in the public eye and the workplace is still very much controversial to some people. If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and you believe you have been discriminated against on that basis, it can feel very intimidating to try and seek out the justice you deserve.
No State Law Protection
South Carolina can be a difficult place to be LGBTQ+, given the lack of protections in several different walks of life. Legislation is often aimed squarely at over-policing their community with little benefit to the populace at large. The Williams School of Law at UCLA estimates that roughly 11 percent of LGBTQ+ adults in South Carolina are unemployed, as opposed to around 5 percent of the general population, while 36 percent of LGBT adults describe themselves as food-insecure (compared to 18 percent of the regular populace).
As of this writing, South Carolina’s Human Affairs Law does not protect workers from disparate treatment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Certain municipalities do have antidiscrimination laws, but they are fragmentary. For example, Richland County, Myrtle Beach, and Mount Pleasant all prohibit any kind of anti- LGBTQ+ discrimination in employment, but other cities and towns like Charleston and Columbia only prohibit this discrimination for city employees.
Is There Relief?
If you have been discriminated against due to your sexuality or gender identity, it may feel hopeless to try and get relief if you continue to live and work in South Carolina. However, there are options that may give you a chance to have your issue resolved. The first is to simply try and raise the issue with your company. Many private companies are seeing the good business sense of providing benefits and a listening ear to their LGBTQ+ workers, and it may be possible to resolve the incident simply by pursuing the issue with the relevant people.
If it is not possible to resolve the situation that way, you may be able to pursue the matter with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Several persuasive rulings have gone into effect in recent years after victories by the EEOC which have granted relief to gay and transgender defendants, and if you are able to properly file a charge with the EEOC, you may be able to have them seek relief on your behalf. If nothing else, you may be able to file a suit for wrongful termination based on public policy grounds. If your termination would shock the conscience of the public, it may be overturned.
Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Lawyer
LGBTQ+ people are entitled to the same rights and dignity as any other person. While antidiscrimination laws are still present in South Carolina, progress is being made as seen by Greenville County Council sunsetting a 1996 anti-gay ordinance. However, if you have been mistreated, contacting an experienced employment lawyer to discuss your case is always a good idea, and attorney A. Christopher Potts has years of experience in trying to navigate this area of the legal process. Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today to schedule a consultation.