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Employment Law

Age Discrimination

Age discrimination can be defined as treating an applicant or employee less favorably because of their age. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) forbids discrimination against those who are age 40 or older. It does not protect those under the age of 40, although some states do have laws that protect younger workers. 

The law forbids discrimination in the areas of hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training and fringe benefits. It is also unlawful to harass a person because of their age. Harassment becomes illegal when it is so frequent that it creates a hostile workplace environment. The harasser can be a supervisor, a co-worker, or even a customer.

Pregnancy Discrimination

Pregnancy discrimination involves treating a female employee or applicant unfavorably because of pregnancy, childbirth, or a medical condition related to the pregnancy. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) forbids discrimination based on pregnancy when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training and fringe benefits like health insurance.

Employee Contracts

Typically employers don't have to give employees any guarantees or promises about their employment and can fire them for any reason that is not based on discrimination. However, if a person has an employment contract covering their job and salary, the employer cannot break the contract. If they do, you may want to file a lawsuit against your employer to enforce the contract and collect any money you’re owed for damages.

Race Discrimination

It is unlawful to discriminate against any employee or applicant because of race or color in regard to hiring, firing, promotion, compensation, training, etc. Harassment can include, for example, racial slurs, offensive or derogatory remarks about a person's race or color, or the display of racially-offensive symbols. It is also illegal to discriminate because an employee is married to, or spends time with, people of a specific race. This applies to employees and applicants. Terms and conditions of employment can include hiring, firing, pay, promotion and benefits.

Family and Medical Leave (FMLA)

South Carolina employers are subject to the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) that allows eligible employees to take unpaid leave, with the right to be reinstated to their job, under certain circumstances. Medical conditions that qualify under the FMLA include: recuperation from a serious health condition, bond with a newborn child, care for a family member with a serious health condition or injury, and handle qualifying issues related to a family member’s military service.

To take FMLA leave for a “serious health condition,” an employee must show proof of illness, injury, impairment or physical or mental condition that results in an inability to work, attend school or perform other regular daily activities for more than three consecutive, full calendar days.

Religious Discrimination

State and Federal laws protect employees' religious rights in the workplace. Except where it would create an unreasonable burden, your employer or prospective employer is required by law to accommodate your religious practice whenever possible. Religious discrimination in the workplace can include: derogatory comments; scheduling when it conflicts with an employee's religious practice, such as on a Sabbath day; preventing contact with clients because of religious wear such as a turban, head covering, or yarmulke; forbidding certain hairstyles or clothing related to your religion; termination for time off work in observance of a religious holiday; refusal to accommodate certain religious practices, such as daily prayer or Sabbath observance, when doing so would not present an "unreasonable burden" to the employer; and of course, denying employment, promotion, pay raises, or other benefits to employees based on their religious beliefs and practice.

Hostile Work Environment

The term "hostile workplace environment" is typically used to describe employers or co-workers that are simply mean or rude. However, being rude is not necessarily illegal. For it to be illegal, the employee or applicant must show that the hostility was due to their age, disability, pregnancy, race, religion or sex.

If you feel you have been harassed in the work place, based on one of the above factors, you may have the right to sue your employer. Discrimination and harassment are usually connected in these instances. Where there is discrimination in the workplace, there is usually harassment as well.

Sexual Harrassment

Sexual harassment is a form of harassment based on sex, and it subjects an employee to explicit or implicit conduct of a sexual nature. It can be verbal as well as physical and if it interferes with a person's employment and work performance by creating a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment, it is illegal. Examples of sexual harassment include unwelcomed sexual advances, sharing pictures with sexual content, and allowing behaviors that are sexually suggestive.

Disability Discrimination

South Carolina and Federal laws prohibit employers from discriminating against people with disabilities or those who are perceived to have disabilities, whether an employee or an applicant. Areas included are: hiring, firing, promotions, pay, job training and more. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), prohibits employers from discriminating against qualified individuals on the basis of a disability or perceived disability. The ADA also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities.

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