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What Is Wage Discrimination?

There are multiple ways by which an employee can be discriminated against. One of the most insidious is wage discrimination. Wage discrimination may be used against employees of a specific race, gender or other group, or it may be used as a weapon against individuals. If you are able to show that you are part of a marginalized class, you may be entitled to compensation from your employer.

South Carolina’s Wage Discrimination Laws

South Carolina has surprisingly few specific wage discrimination laws of its own, preferring instead to fall back on federal rules to govern issues like minimum wage. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) sets a minimum wage, as well as overtime regulations and rate of pay. This can, in some cases, be an advantage in terms of navigating possible wage discrimination claims, because the FLSA and other federal wage and hour laws are relatively easy to navigate, being all in one place instead of codified in small sections throughout a state’s jurisprudence.

In terms of wage disputes, the actual procedure is covered in SC Code Sec 41-10-70 and -80, citing procedures by which a disagreement can be adjudicated. However, if the issue of wage discrimination comes into play, the general rule is to refer the matter to either the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Which option will depend on what basis the claim is being made and on which basis you are claiming discrimination.

Proving Wage Discrimination

The most difficult issue in wage discrimination cases is proving that wage inequality exists between you and your coworkers (or between you and the prevailing standard for wages in your field) and also proving that the inequality exists because of an immutable characteristic of yours. The most common ground upon which wage discrimination is alleged is that of gender, and there is some evidence to back up many women’s assertions that their male colleagues make significantly more than they do. But even if your claim lacks such a history, you can still make it, either under the Equal Pay Act, or under Title VII.

If you elect to bring suit under the Equal Pay Act, you can actually progress directly to court, instead of navigating the EEOC complaint process. If you file under Title VII, you must still go through the EEOC, who will either take on your case, or grant you what is referred to as a “right to sue” letter. You may then pursue the case on your own. Be advised that no matter which avenue you pursue, the time limit is the same—two years from the date of the injury—after which the statute will toll and your claim will be moot.

Get Help From a Charleston, SC Wage Discrimination Attorney

Wage discrimination is difficult to prove, but if you are able to do so, you can strike a blow not only for your own case, but for those who share your characteristics. If you need questions answered, attorney A. Christopher Potts and the associates at the Charleston firm of Hitchcock & Potts can help.

Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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