Since the murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the Black Lives Matter Movement has brought race discrimination to the forefront of national consciousness. This has reignited (or created) conversations in the workplace about what constitutes race-based discrimination, how to avoid engaging in this type of behavior, and when to call out discrimination when it occurs. If you have been discriminated against, you should know that you have options in terms of seeking justice, instead of having to suffer in silence.
Racial Discrimination Is Illegal
As one can imagine, any kind of race-based discrimination in employment is unlawful under both South Carolina law and the federal Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, from interviewing to firing. This includes both targeted discrimination and harassment, whether overt or covert. Too many minority employees may not raise attention to discrimination out of fear of the consequences, but legally, they have the right to insist on a discrimination-free workplace.
If you believe that you have been discriminated against on the job because of your race, or if jokes and teasing have risen to the level of a hostile work environment, filing a charge with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (HAC) starts an investigation of your employer. This grants them a chance to refute your allegations and an opportunity to work out a solution between you and them. If no settlement can be reached, the agency will then give you a Notice of Right to Sue, which allows you to try your luck in court.
Political Opinion Is Sometimes Protected
In addition to anti-discrimination law, South Carolina does have a regulation on the books that is somewhat unique—in some cases, political opinion is a protected ground in terms of negative employment action. In other words, there are times when one’s political opinion cannot be used as grounds to discipline or fire you from your job. South Carolina law specifically states that it is unlawful to “discharge a citizen from employment or occupation” based on political opinion or the “exercise of political rights and privileges” guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and/or state law.
In this day and age, an employer may choose to terminate an employee for several reasons. However, the mere exercise of your constitutional rights, such as the right to peacefully protest, is not considered sufficient cause in South Carolina, for the most part. The courts have not (as of this writing) defined either “political opinion” or the “exercise of political rights and privileges” specifically, so they are usually defined in a case-by-case manner. But there are certain issues nowadays that, rightly or wrongly, are seen as highly political. It is likely that Black Lives Matter-related content will be seen as “political” for the foreseeable future.
Contact A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Lawyer
In these highly-charged times, it is crucial that you understand your rights, lest you get taken advantage of or forced into a position you do not want to be in. The South Carolina employment discrimination firm of Hitchcock & Potts is well versed in this area of law, and will fight hard for you. Attorney A. Christopher Potts is ready and willing to assist. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.