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State & Federal Laws for Racial Discrimination Cases

Being the victim of alleged racial discrimination is something no one should ever have to experience. However, if you do ever find yourself victimized by racist policies or people, it is imperative to know your rights and your responsibilities. One of the primary questions you may ask yourself is under which law you might have a cause of action. South Carolina has its own anti-discrimination regulations, but there are also multiple federal options, depending on the circumstances of your specific racial discrimination case.

South Carolina Law Impacting Racial Discrimination Cases

Racial discrimination is prohibited by the South Carolina Human Affairs Law (SCHAL), which declares it a “matter of state concern.” The claims is that it is in the public interest to work toward peaceful coexistence. The law specifically singles out employment and hiring discrimination as prohibited. It lays out several examples for both direct employers and employment agencies to abide by. The law also specifies the difference between an employer and a covered entity—because not every employer in South Carolina is covered under the SCHAL.

It is important to note, however, that there are also examples listed regarding actions employers may take that are not discriminatory, generally as a matter of law. For example, the law states that it is not discriminatory practice to have different levels of compensation for employees as long as it is not based on any of the characteristics listed in the law. There are many other situations where an employer’s conduct may not be discriminatory, but it would likely depend on the specifics of your racial discrimination case in order to tell for sure.

Federal Law Impacting Racial Discrimination Cases

If you choose instead to bring suit or bring a charge under federal law, you may have a choice in how to do so. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the most commonly used regulation in terms of filing charges of racial discrimination, usually with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Title VII also has a provision built in that can be helpful to those victimized by racial discrimination in South Carolina. This provision holds that if your state or local jurisdiction has a law prohibiting the same, the normal 180-day deadline for filing a charge is extended to 300 days.

Despite the common usage of Title VII in terms of bringing racial discrimination suits or charges, some do bring their suits under a different law. Section 1981 of the U.S. Code, more properly 42 U.S.C. §1981, allows a person to bring suit directly, as opposed to Title VII which requires adjudication by the EEOC first (the EEOC may not accept your case; if so, you will be given leave to sue). Section 1981 also does not have a limit to punitive damages, whereas Title VII does. However, the burden of proof is different and in many cases more difficult to meet. Consulting a knowledgeable racial discrimination attorney can help you decide which law your charge is filed under.

Seek Experienced Legal Assistance

If you are discriminated against, it can be very difficult to marshal one’s thoughts into coherent order. There is no shame in needing help to plan a path forward. If you have questions or need help determining how to deal with the wrong committed against you, an experienced discrimination attorney can be extremely valuable. Attorney A. Christopher Potts and his Charleston employment discrimination law firm are happy to sit down with you and assist you with your case.

Contact us today to set up an initial consultation.

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