Filing a charge of employment discrimination in South Carolina is a significant decision. It shows that internal means of dispute resolution have failed and you’re ready to pursue outside remedies. It also means that there’s no going back, for good or ill. Still, in many situations, it’s the only way to get any measure of recompense from your employer after unfair treatment. Understanding what happens after a discrimination charge is filed can help you throughout the process.
Depending on the type of claim you want to file, you have between 180 and 300 days to file your charge, either with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (HAC) or with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The HAC has a working agreement with the EEOC, which means that if you file with that body, your charge may be automatically dual-filed with the EEOC if the situation merits (meaning that you do not have to file with both agencies).
The first step that happens after a discrimination charge is filed, no matter which body you choose to file with, a preliminary review will be conducted to ensure that the basic tenets of a claim have been met—for example, that the relevant antidiscrimination laws being cited do in fact apply to your employer.
If the claim passes muster, will then be transmitted to your employer for a response (which they must provide, generally within 20 days). If they fail to respond, or if the agency decides there is a claim that requires adjudication (as opposed to something that could in theory be solved in-house), then the next step is generally a hearing.
Hearing or Lawsuit?
If the agency decides to hear your case, the HAC or the EEOC will hold a formal hearing, either with one hearing official or a commission. Their decision is appealable to the circuit court by either party. However, some plaintiffs will request a right-to-sue letter instead of a hearing, which gives them the right to bring suit on their own behalf in the relevant circuit court. The employer will be served with the papers, and their answer will be required within 20 days.
After that, a standard civil lawsuit will occur with discovery, jury selection, and the usual processes, hopefully leading to an award in your favor. While any award is appealable by either party, the potential damages you may receive if you prevail at trial are significant. Depending on the facts of your case, damages may include lost wages, expenses associated with a new job search, mental anguish, loss of quality of life, and many others. While each case is different, yours should hopefully result in enough damages to ensure your financial future is secure.
Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney
Being discriminated against in the workplace is a horrible experience that can leave someone feeling overwhelmed. With an experienced South Carolina employment discrimination attorney on your side, you have a higher chance of getting the outcome you want. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and the firm of Hitchcock & Potts have years of experience with these types of cases, and we are ready to help you with yours. Contact our offices today to speak to an attorney.