Experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace is something that can leave permanent effects on the victim, both emotionally and financially. This is why, like many states, South Carolina has been moving towards legislation that attempts to prevent it from happening, as well as protecting victims when it does.
Many victims lack the courage or motivation to come forward because of embarrassment, grief, or the fear of losing their job or being socially exiled from their work network. If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace in South Carolina, know that avoiding dealing with it is not a solution. You have legal recourse to seek justice.
Sexual harassment laws in South Carolina
Sexual harassment is prohibited under both state and federal laws, and although South Carolina’s state laws aren’t always as tough as other states, a legal path to justice is usually within reach.
In the state of South Carolina, the South Carolina Human Affairs Law, South Carolina Code Section 1-13-10 prohibits private and public employers with 15 or more employees from “discriminating against employees because of their sex, and related issues such as pregnancy, childbirth, or other similar medical conditions.” Sexual harassment can usually fall under this state law.
Federally, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it a violation of federal law to harass or discriminate against employees because of their sex.
Some examples of sexual harassment are:
- Rude, lewd comments, whether written or verbal
- Unwanted sexual advances, touching, or more explicit sexual assault or rape
- Stalking; following someone around, waiting at their car at the end of the day, repeatedly phoning, texting, and attempting to make contact despite being told to stop.
- “Quid-pro-quo” sexual harassment: An employer or higher up employee offering a tangible job benefit, like a promotion or pay-raise, in exchange for sexual favors from the victim.
Things that wouldn’t be considered sexual harassment would be:
- Asking someone on a date
- Consensual relationships
- Giving a gift
In order to file a lawsuit, you first have to file a complaint with The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC). Federal cases are only legitimate if the complaints are filed within 300 days, and state-level cases are only legitimate if the complaint is filed within 180 days.
The agency you file your complaint with will then conduct an investigation. After an investigation, a hearing may have to take place before the lawsuit is formally filed.
Do you need help with a sexual harassment lawsuit in South Carolina?
The legal process can be tedious and complex, no matter what side of the case you’re on. If you’ve been involved with a sexual harassment case, it’s imperative to get in touch with an experienced attorney to help you navigate this difficult time. Attorney’s are available in both Charleston and Lexington, South Carolina.
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