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:
Under the South Carolina Human Affairs Law, it is unlawful to fire employees because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy), disability, or age (at least 40 years of age) (SC Code Sec. 1-13-10 et seq.).
Employers are also prohibited from discriminating against employees who oppose unlawful discrimination (SC Code Sec. 1-13-80(F)).
Both laws apply to employers with at least 15 employees.
As a general rule, if a federal, state, or local law grants employees the right to engage in an activity or to enjoy a benefit, employees should never be disciplined, discharged, or otherwise retaliated against for requesting or attempting to do so.
To list a few key examples, state law prohibits employers from discharging employees for engaging in the following activities:
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 ...