When a person's employment is terminated, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, there are a number of questions that may arise. Some carry the risk of criminal and/or civil liability. The following subject areas should be considered:
Burden of proof. If the employer is charged with retaliatory discharge, the employer is innocent until proven guilty. However, circumstantial evidence—such as a string of good evaluations followed by a sudden turnaround—can be devastating. As a result, if you terminate an employee, it is essential to be able to show conclusively, with both testimony and documentation, that the “protected” conduct was in no way related to the discharge.
Jury duty. It is illegal to discharge an employee for responding to a subpoena to serve on a jury or to appear as a witness (SC Code Sec. 41-1-70).
Occupational safety and health complaints. An employer may not discharge or in any manner discriminate against an employee because the employee has filed a complaint or instituted, or caused to be instituted, any proceeding under or relating to statutes, rules, or regulations regarding occupational safety and health. An employer also cannot discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because the employee has testified, or is about to testify, in any such proceedings or because the employee has exercised any right afforded by such statutes, rules, ...