The southern state of South Carolina has a population of just under 4.5 million and an annual GDP of about $150 billion. The heart of the old Confederacy is renowned for its agricultural products, particularly tobacco, soy, and dairy. SC also supports chemical, textile, and automotive support industries. The Federal Government maintains an array of bases in South Carolina. Tourism along the Atlantic shoreline brings in a significant percentage of the state’s revenue.
The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission deals with employment discrimination issues. Whereas 150 years ago, South Carolina sanctioned human slavery; today, the state strictly forbids by law any discrimination on the basis of color, race, national origin, religion, and other characteristics, such as:
- Age. Employees over 40 receive protection under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), which prohibits employers from unfairly targeting older workers in hiring, firing, job assignments, and other decisions.
- Disability. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects individuals with mental or physical conditions that limit a major life functions. Employers may not treat these workers inequitably. Companies that consider disabled persons for employment must be willing to provide reasonable accommodations to help them do their jobs.
- Sex. Since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers may not treat workers differently with regards to employment decisions or assignments because of their gender.
These proscriptions apply not only to employment but also to housing and public accommodations.
The SCHAC plays a variety of roles in South Carolina public life. A 15 person governing board and a Chief Officer (appointed by the Governor) run the organization, which strives to support, educate, and protect the rights of the working public. Its mandate, as set forth by the South Carolina Human Affairs Law of 1972, is to investigate discrimination claims, resolve them if possible, monitor how employers behave, track affirmative action programs, offer technical assistance to business owners who want to come into line with anti-discrimination norms, and foster improved relationships among communities.
Laws that fall under the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission’s jurisdiction include:
- Equal Enjoyment of and Privileges to Public Accommodations Act
- South Carolina Fair Housing Law
- South Carolina Human Affairs Law
Just a century and a half ago, South Carolina was home to some of the most virulent racial intolerance on the planet. In December of 1860, the state seceded from the U.S. over the issue of slavery, kicking off the Civil War, the most brutal conflict in American history. Although South Carolina’s attitude towards race has moderated amazingly since the days of slavery and segregation, old attitudes die hard. In addition, attempts to rectify old grievances by means of “reverse discrimination” can sometimes complicate workplace racial dynamics.
If you or someone you know has experienced harassment, discrimination, wage and hour violations, or gender or national origin discrimination at your South Carolina workplace, a local attorney with knowledge and experience regarding state and national laws can help. Contact a South Carolina employment lawyer today to develop a strategy to achieve justice.