The fields of employment discrimination law and labor law generally require different knowledge, but there will sometimes be instances where the two practice areas might coincide. Employers may engage in discriminatory conduct, or they may commit labor law violations, but sometimes, one will actually create the other. If you believe that you are in this situation, it is a good idea to contact an employment lawyer to try and get any questions you may have answered.
Two Types Of Law
Labor law is the area of U.S. law that deals with the rights of employers, employees, and unions. Employment discrimination law is a subset of labor law that focuses on alleged discrimination, as one might imagine – but actually defining discrimination can be difficult. Obviously, any kind of nakedly discriminatory conduct is unacceptable, but the South Carolina Human Affairs Law (HAL) and the relevant federal antidiscrimination laws also prohibit policies and conduct that encourage discrimination in fact (in other words, policies that may be neutral in their wording, but cause a disproportionately negative effect on a certain group of people).
This is very relevant in some labor law cases, because sometimes, violations like failure to pay wages (also called wage theft), misclassification of employees, and denial of overtime pay are either intentionally or unintentionally discriminatory. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has handled cases in the past where wage theft only affected workers of a certain immigration status, or a certain gender, or religion. If you suspect this type of phenomenon in your case, you may be entitled to restitution and damages on that basis, in addition to any coming from your wage & hour case.
If you are unable to manage the issue in-house, the way to file a charge against your employer is to contact the agencies that handle these claims. You can file with either the state Human Affairs Commission (HAC), or with the federal EEOC. The HAC is referred to as a Fair Employment Practices Agency (FEPA) in EEOC parlance, which means that any charge filed with them will be ‘dual filed’ with the EEOC, and the agency best suited to manage your claim will eventually take charge of it.
Depending on the specific facts of your case, you may have choices to make about how you want this matter handled. In some cases it may be a good idea to pursue the wage & hour violation and the alleged discrimination as separate cases. Other times, pursuing them together is better, particularly in cases where the alleged discrimination was a subtle type, rather than intentionally malicious – in these matters, evidence of the wage and hour violation may be persuasive as to the employer’s general pattern of behavior toward their employees.
Contact A South Carolina Employment Lawyer
Being the victim of a wage and hour violation merits immediate action to get what is yours – but being a victim of discrimination can make someone feel powerless. If you are in this situation, calling a South Carolina employment lawyer can be a good first step toward getting some answers. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has handled many of these types of cases, and the firm of Hitchcock & Potts can help you with yours. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.