South Carolina is an employer-friendly "right to work" state, but many employees have protections in employment contracts, under various state and federal employment, wage and overtime laws, and even their employer's handbooks and policies and procedures. Understanding your rights as an employee is the first step to protecting yourself and your household from improperly losing the income and benefits you have earned.
Often we counsel individuals on cases where their employer has failed to provide fair wages, tips, and commissions to them. Familiar situations are where the employer recognizes that an individual is an employee, and yet fails to pay minimum wages or overtime, requires improper sharing of tips with other co-workers, or discharges the employee without making a full, timely payment of amounts due. Employees in South Carolina in these situations are protected both by the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act and the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act. Another common situation is where an employer avoids wage payment obligations to an individual by misclassifying that person's legal status, e.g., as an independent contractor rather than an employee or as an employee exempt from receiving overtime compensation. When employers improperly fail to compensate a large number of employees, an employee may have the right to bring a class action lawsuit against the employer for all workers affected by their employer's misconduct. Therefore, in each of these situations, workers in South Carolina should seek legal counsel and take prompt legal action to protect themselves and their household from harm due to lost wages and compensation.
Congress has passed an Equal Pay Act. The purpose of this law is to ensure that men and women in the same workplace be given equal pay for substantially equal work. All forms of pay are covered by this law, including salary, overtime pay, bonuses, stock options, profit sharing and bonus plans, life insurance, vacation and holiday pay. Reimbursements, and benefits When a person believes that they are being underpaid as a form of discrimination, skilled legal counsel can assist in determining whether jobs are substantially equal. If there is an inequality in wages between men and women, employers may not reduce the wages of either sex to equalize their pay. These disputes are handled both before the EEOC and the federal courts. As in all employment matters, taking prompt legal action is critical, as the time limit for filing an EPA charge with the EEOC and the time limit for going to court are the same: within two years of the alleged unlawful compensation practice or, in the case of a willful violation, within three years.
There a number of complex federal laws that offer differing forms of remedies for employees suffering from discrimination or retaliation in the workplace. For example, South Carolina and federal law provides certain protections to whistleblowers who are retaliated against for engaging in protected activity. Additionally, federal laws prohibit employers in South Carolina from discrimination or retaliation in connection with a person's age, disability, need for family medical leave, national origin, pregnancy, race/color, religion, gender, and genetic information. Some of these laws also offer protection to employees from sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as hostile work environments that often end in an employee being left no choice but to resign a job, which is called "constructive termination." Employees should not ignore these matters or leave them to be dealt with at a later date; many of these issues must be promptly raised with the EEOC - often within 300 days of the discrimination, or the employee will forever lose the right to complain about the discrimination, retaliation, or the harm resulting from the employers misconduct. Effective legal counsel can aid employees in navigating their employer's HR process, the EEOC reporting process, and if necessary, the court system.
Our attorneys work to provide quality and timely service in order to resolve employment disputes and get our clients back on solid ground. Give us a call to set up a consolation to see if we can help you.
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