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Mediation in South Carolina Employment Disputes

Most of the time, when employees have a dispute with their employer or former employer, they intend to bring suit under federal law. In South Carolina, this sometimes does not happen, at least not right away. Both state and federal authorities in the state encourage the use of mediation in resolving disputes, and many plaintiffs take the option. If you decide to do so, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the process.  

Federal Court Mediation

The Local Civil Rules for the District of South Carolina, basically the court regulations, hold that every employment law dispute filed in their court must be mediated before any trial occurs, unless good cause can be shown to excuse such a requirement. Mediation can be of immense help to all involved in the case, especially since court dockets are perpetually overbooked and attorneys are expensive to retain. It is also important to keep in mind that there is no requirement that one concludes their case in mediation – merely that it be attempted.

If you do decide to have your case mediated, rather than wait for trial, it can be a very informal process, or it can be very formal indeed, depending on the mediator. The mediator is not a judge or arbiter; their role is exclusively to help the two sides come to an agreement on their own. They will, however, enforce the rule that statements made during mediation may not be used at trial if the mediation fails. The rationale behind this rule is that it would qualify as hearsay – a statement uttered by someone outside of court, offered for its truth – and hearsay is inadmissible in court.

State Law Mediation

If your dispute falls under the aegis of state law, mediation will most likely occur through the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, if you do not elect to pursue it privately. This is a much less likely scenario in South Carolina than in many other states, however; South Carolina does not have state-specific employment laws for many issues that will commonly appear, such as alleged racial discrimination or breaches of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As such, the significant majority of employment discrimination laws will occur under the federal aegis.

For the rare instances where state law mediation of an employment discrimination claim is appropriate, the process itself will be fairly similar. Much of its tenor will depend on the mediator – it can be critical to have a mediator whose style matches with yours and your employer’s, or they may actually prove to be more of a wedge between you than an aid to compromise.

Contact A Knowledgeable Attorney

Employment law is a field where disputes can lend themselves well to mediation and other forms of alternative dispute resolution; no employer wants to be embroiled in a dispute with employees, and no employee wants to dwell on what can be a difficult and painful time for them. Enlisting a qualified employment discrimination attorney can help both parties settle their dispute and move on. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and his Charleston firm of Hitchcock & Potts have been handling employment discrimination cases for years, and are happy to help you with yours. Contact our offices today at 843-577-5000 to set up an initial appointment.

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