Our Charleston attorneys help employees who face sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII, applies to any company with more than 15 employees when it comes to sexual harassment. The company must also be in an industry affecting interstate commerce.
What is Sexual Harassment in South Carolina?
South Carolina follows the federal laws regarding claims of sexual harassment. The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
According to the EEOC, sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances such as:
- The victim and the harasser may be a woman or a man
- The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct
- Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim
- The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
Title VII charges must be filed with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. However, you can still file after 180 days if less than 300 days have passed, in which case the charge will be transferred from SCHAC to the EEOC.
According to the “South Carolina Human Affairs Law,” S.C. Code Ann. § 1-13-10 et seq., it is against the law for an employer, employment agency, or labor organization to discriminate against an individual based on their sex.
What are the Types of Sexual Harassment in South Carolina?
There are two basic types of sexual harassment:
- Quid Pro Quo – Occurs when someone with authority over your job, such as supervisor, demands sexual favors from an employee in exchange for assistance in promoting, hiring, or retaining the employee.
- Hostile Work Environment – Occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s job performance or creates a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment.
How Do You File a Sexual Harassment Claim in South Carolina?
The typical procedure for filing a sexual harassment claim in South Carolina is as follows:
- Document the Harassment: Write down the details of the incident, possible witnesses, and gather any physical evidence that could help your claim. Don’t let too much time pass or you may forget important details.
- Review your Company’s Sexual Harassment Policies: Your employer should have procedures in place that allow you to make a complaint through the human resources department of your company. Make sure you follow those procedures.
- Report to Supervisor: If the harassment continues, you must report it to your supervisor. If the harasser is your supervisor, report to someone higher or to the HR department. If the harasser is the highest-ranking individual in the workplace, report to the HR department or any other management personnel.
- File a Complaint with SCHAC or the EEOC: The first complaint you need to file is either with SCHAC (within 180 days) or with the EEOC (within 300 days). These agencies will investigate your claim and may take action with your employer to provide you with a remedy.
- File a Civil Lawsuit: If SCHAC or the EEOC doesn’t resolve the issue, they will give you a “right to sue letter.” This letter indicates that the agency has finished processing your charge and that you are free to file a lawsuit. Once you receive your right to sue letter, you must file your lawsuit within 90 days.
In South Carolina, you must “exhaust the possible remedies” before you can file a lawsuit. In other words, you have to first report the harassment to your employer and follow the business’s procedures, then report to SCHAC or the EEOC and get your right to sue letter before you can file a civil lawsuit.
Charleston Sexual Harassment Lawyers
The Charleston Employment Law Attorneys at Futeral & Nelson, LLC help those employees have been harassed or discriminated against in Charleston, North Charleston, Mt. Pleasant, Summerville, Goose Creek, Hanahan, Moncks Corner, James Island, West Ashley, Folly Beach, Sullivan’s Island, Isle of Palms, Awendaw, McClellanville and the surrounding areas.