South Carolina is an at-will state, which means that most of the time, employers may terminate workers without cause or notice. However, this does not mean that you have no recourse if you believe you have been wrongfully terminated. Being fired in retaliation, against public policy, or in another exception to at-will employment means you may be able to file suit against your employer to recover compensation.
How To Spot A Wrongful Termination
There are several reasons why a termination might be deemed suspect, and a worker might choose to file a lawsuit for wrongful termination. For example, while most workers in South Carolina do not have employment contracts, those who do have certain rights before they can be terminated. A common example is the requirement of a verbal warning before being fired. So, if a worker with an employment contract is summarily terminated without that warning, they may have grounds to file suit.
A wrongful termination claim may also spring up around wage and hour issues. While South Carolina has no state minimum wage law or overtime regulations, it does observe federal laws that require employees be paid a certain amount. Overtime, in particular, can become a bone of contention between employer and employee, with an employer trying to save money by terminating a worker who has become “expensive” for the company.
Retaliation & Discrimination
While a sudden termination of an employment contract can be a mistake or an oversight, many other causes of wrongful termination can only be seen as malicious. Federal law prohibits any kind of discrimination (including termination) based on a protected characteristic—In other words, any characteristic specified in federal antidiscrimination law, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA). If you can establish that you were terminated due to your age, gender, race, or another protected characteristic, you should contact the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to investigate the possibility of filing suit.
Be advised that only some employers are governed by these laws. If your place of work is very small with less than 15 employees, many antidiscrimination laws do not apply to your employer. Also, you do have a time limit in which to file. Normally, the EEOC states that you must approach them within 180 days, though this may be extended to 300 calendar days in some cases.
Call A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney
When you have been wrongfully terminated without cause, it can be upsetting and even scary. If you have lost your job for what you believe is a discriminatory or unfair reason, you may have a way to seek compensation. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has been handling South Carolina employment discrimination cases for many years, and is happy to assist you with yours. Contact the firm of Hitchcock & Potts today to schedule a consultation.