Many people think that because South Carolina is an “at-will” state when it comes to employment, they never have any right to seek redress for wrongful termination. In reality, it is still possible for someone to be terminated in a way that is inconsistent with state or federal antidiscrimination law. Read on to learn how to spot wrongful termination in South Carolina. If you feel like you have been discriminated against and terminated because of it, you may have a case against your former employer.
You Can Sue If Wrongfully Terminated
The majority of employees in the United States work on what is known as an “at-will” basis. This means that they can be let go by their employer at any time, for any reason, in theory. However, there are several exceptions to this. For example, an employee who has a contract is, by definition, not an at-will employee. Another common exception is what is known as the “public policy” exception, where an action is generally considered inappropriate if it would shock the conscience of a reasonable member of the public.
In addition to the common-law exceptions to the at-will policy, some employers may engage in discriminatory hiring or firing, based on characteristics protected by either the South Carolina Human Affairs Law (HAL) or various federal antidiscrimination laws. If you are terminated and you believe it was based on a characteristic protected by these laws, you may be able to file suit or file a complaint with the relevant authorities for compensation.
Unique Events May Lead To New Cases
In 2020 and 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the employment picture for countless employees. While some employers have had to make cutbacks due to a lack of profit or adapting the company’s business model, some employers have laid off employees because they believe it best, or because doing so may enhance already-solid profits. Layoff numbers reached a 5-month high in November 2020, ostensibly because of reimposed lockdown restrictions, but it remains to be seen whether any of those layoffs were illegitimate.
While as of this writing, no legislation has been passed or case decided specifically dealing with the pandemic’s ramifications. However, it can still be implied that certain actions on the part of your employer are unlawful, especially in the context of the Occupational Health & Safety Administration (OSHA), which regulates workplace safety. For example, it is generally considered unlawful for your employer to lay you off or terminate you in retaliation for raising concerns about proper safety procedures, or after you have filed a workers’ compensation case related to COVID-19. Keep this in mind.
Contact A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney
It’s important to know how to spot wrongful termination in South Carolina. With the pandemic still a factor in workplace life, the issue of wrongful termination or layoff can be an even more pressing issue than it might be otherwise. If you suspect you have been wrongfully terminated, contact a South Carolina employment discrimination attorney from the firm of Hitchcock & Potts. Attorney A. Christopher Potts is ready to assist you with your case. Contact us today to set up a consultation.