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Can I Sue My Employer for Wrongful Termination in South Carolina?

— September 7, 2022

You have the right to sue your employer, but your lawyer will explain that you need to exhaust other complaint procedures first.

South Carolina is an at-will employment state, which means that an employer can fire anyone at any time without providing any reason. However, there are limits to this rule and often enough the real reason you were fired is illegal. If that is the case, you need to consult with an experienced South Carolina employment lawyer and file a complaint.

What is wrongful termination in South Carolina?

If your employer’s decision to fire you violates state or federal law, this is called wrongful termination.

Many wrongful termination cases have to do with discrimination. Public and private employees in South Carolina are protected against workplace discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as under the South Carolina Human Affairs Law. Both laws prohibit discrimination based on protected characteristics such as race, color, sex, age, disability, national origin, religion, etc.

Often enough, the termination is only the last act in a string of discriminatory practices against an individual. For instance, a person of color may be constantly assigned the most menial or difficult tasks or be passed over for a fully-deserved promotion, not to mention being the target of racist jokes or disparaging comments.  Such actions constitute grounds for a racial discrimination complaint. When the employer fires you, they won’t be able to claim that it was their right under the at-will employment rule. Talk to a seasoned employment lawyer in Charleston, SC, and they will help you find justice.

The same applies if you were sexually harassed by your employer and when they got bored of you refusing their sexual advances they fired you. Such a situation perfectly fits the definition of a quid pro quo sexual harassment case, which regulate the relation between an employee and their supervisor or manager. You should see a sexual harassment lawyer as you have a better chance to a positive outcome if you file a complaint for sexual harassment rather than a wrongful termination one.

Can I sue my employer in South Carolina?

You have the right to sue your employer, but your lawyer will explain that you need to exhaust other complaint procedures first.

Image of the EEOC seal
Seal of the EEOC; image courtesy of U.S. Government via Wikimedia Commons,

For instance, in a discrimination case, you are required to file an internal complaint first. The law assumes that your employer will act in good faith and take appropriate measures to remedy the situation. If you are harassed by your employer you know that this won’t help, but it is best to stay within the law and follow the procedure.

If your employer doesn’t take any action, your employment lawyer will help you file charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. These agencies can investigate your accusations and mediate between you and your employer. Most complaints are settled at this stage. You can be offered compensation for your mental anguish, as well as for your lost wages if you were wrongfully terminated or you quit your job because you could not take it anymore. Also, you may be awarded punitive damages and be compensated for your legal expenses.  

If negotiations fail, the EEOC might decide to file a lawsuit on your behalf, or they might issue you a ‘notice to sue’, which basically allows you to take your employer to court. 

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