Harassment claims have always been a kind of subjective, difficult claim to pursue against one’s employer. But at the same time, many people on the job wind up being harassed, either by co-workers or supervisors. If you do believe that you are experiencing harassment on the job, it is important that you know you have options—you do not have to simply sit there and accept mistreatment. Learn more about harassment claims against South Carolina employers.
Specific Definition Matters
Harassment has a similar definition in both South Carolina and federal law. Any pattern of unpleasant treatment or contact based on the victim’s protected characteristic(s) will qualify. The distinction is fine, but important—if someone is verbally harassing a person about, say, their weight, it will be considered unprofessional and likely require a visit to HR. However, weight is not a protected characteristic under either Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or the South Carolina Human Affairs Law. This means you would likely not have a claim solely based on harassment (though you might on other grounds).
Harassment provisions exist in most employment laws, both state and federal. In addition to Title VII and the SCHAL, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) and Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) both have provisions barring the practice of poor treatment based specifically on protected characteristics. However, it can be difficult to determine what constitutes unlawful harassment and what qualifies as mere teasing or childish behavior, and mere teasing is not something that you can seek redress over.
Two Possible Ways To Prove Harassment
Generally, teasing becomes harassment when (1) enduring the behavior becomes an explicit or implicit condition of continuing your employment; or (2) when it rises to the level of creating a hostile work environment. Hostile work environment claims, in particular, are common—if the conduct can be shown to be “severe or pervasive” (though not necessarily both), you have a good chance to prevail in suit.
If you believe you have experienced harassment and/or a hostile work environment, you generally have the option of filing a charge either under state or federal law. However, South Carolina law does not allow recovery for certain costs, such as compensatory damages (pain and suffering and other intangible damages), attorney’s fees or punitive damages. If you believe that there may be a chance to recover these damages, it may be in your best interest to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) rather than state authorities.
Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney
Filing harassment claims against South Carolina employers is never an easy thing to do, especially if you have not been working with your employer for long. If you have questions or concerns, attorney A. Christopher Potts has been handling these types of employment discrimination lawsuits for years, and is happy to help you with yours. Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today to schedule a consultation.