Discrimination In The Workplace Near You In South Carolina - Explained By A Workplace Discrimination Lawyer

Discrimination In The Workplace Near You In South Carolina – Explained By A Workplace Discrimination Lawyer

Discrimination in the workplace remains a persistent issue in today’s society despite the legal strides made by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which is expressly illegal under state and federal law. Unfortunately, recent data from a Monster poll revealed that a staggering 91% of employed individuals have personally endured discrimination either by their employer, while 77% have observed discriminatory acts directed towards others while at work. Experiencing discrimination at such a heightened rate underscores the ongoing need for awareness and education surrounding illegal discrimination, its implications, and the rights and responsibilities of both employees and employers.

At The Lovely Law Firm, we abhor all forms of discriminatory behavior, particularly within the workplace. We recognize that many individuals may be unaware of their rights and the ways in which they can hold their employers or colleagues accountable for discriminatory behavior. It is our mission to bridge this gap by offering important information regarding discriminatory behavior in the workplace and legal assistance to members of the Myrtle Beach community and across the state of South Carolina. Through our dedicated efforts, we strive to empower and assist individuals who have been discriminated against. Our main goal is to ensure that workplaces uphold principles of fairness, equality, and respect for all employees. This page is intended to shed light on these crucial matters, aiming to create a fair and inclusive work environment for all employees regardless of their jobs, as well as hold discriminatory behavior accountable.

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What Is The Definition Of Unlawful Discrimination?

Illegal discrimination in South Carolina and the rest of the United States is broadly defined as treating someone differently due to a legally protected characteristic. This means that if a person is treated unfavorably in a particular situation, or refused employment based solely on their membership in a protected class, it is typically constituted as a discriminatory practice. Being treated unfavorably or denied employment must be motivated by the individual being a member of a protected class. It’s important to note that there are limited exceptions or defenses to this general principle.

When it comes to employment, illegal discrimination occurs when an employer unfavorably treats an employee or job applicant based on their membership in a protected class. These protected classes are designated categories that are safeguarded from discrimination under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and The South Carolina Human Affairs Law. Protected classes include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religious practices
  • National origin
  • Sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, or gender identity),
  • Age (40 and older)
  • Disability
  • Genetic information

It’s important to note that retaliation from an employer or colleagues for filing a discrimination charge or reasonably opposing discriminatory practices, also falls under the purview of illegal discrimination. This retaliation can include interference, coercion, or threats related to an individual exercising their rights regarding disability discrimination or pregnancy accommodation.

If you suspect that you have experienced discrimination in the workplace or during the process of seeking employment based on any of the previously mentioned factors, don’t hesitate to seek assistance from our team of dedicated Myrtle Beach workplace discrimination lawyers at The Lovely Law Firm. We understand the complexities and emotions when discrimination has been experienced and are committed to providing you with the support and legal guidance needed to address these injustices effectively. Your civil rights deserve protection, and we are here to ensure that you receive the legal representation and advocacy necessary to seek justice and uphold all principles of equality in the workplace.

What Are The Three Forms Of Illegal Discrimination?

While discrimination can affect many different types of individuals, it’s necessary to recognize that there are different forms of discrimination. Discrimination can present itself in various ways, from overt acts to subtle biases. It can also rear its ugly head during hiring practices, promotion decisions, pay disparities, hostile work environments, and beyond. Fully understanding the multifaceted nature of discrimination allows individuals to identify and address discrimination effectively in all its forms. Here are the three main forms of illegal discrimination:

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Disparate Treatment In The Workplace

This form of illegal discrimination is typically the most obvious in the workplace. Disparate treatment in the workplace refers to outright discrimination through the unequal treatment of an employee. This form of discrimination occurs when an employee is subjected to different standards or opportunities solely because of their race, gender, religion, or other protected characteristics. An example of disparate treatment could include a company refusing to hire an individual due to their race, gender, pregnancy, religion, etc. Doing so directly fails to comply with anti-discrimination laws and can lead to legal repercussions for the employer.

Proving disparate treatment in a case of workplace or employment discrimination typically requires demonstrating several factors to establish a prima facie case, including the following:

  1. The individual must establish that they are a member of a protected class, such as race, religion, gender, etc.
  2. They need to provide evidence proving that they applied for the job or promotion in question and possessed the necessary qualifications for the position.
  3. Provide evidence that despite meeting the job requirements, the employer opted not to hire them. This can be further proven if the employer did not state a reason why the candidate was not chosen for the job.
  4. To further strengthen the case, it’s beneficial to illustrate that the employer kept the job vacancy open and continued to accept applications for the position with similar qualifications to the individual alleging discrimination.

By providing these types of proof, individuals can present a compelling case of disparate treatment and seek legal recourse against discriminatory practices in the workplace. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in the form of disparate treatment, it’s important to contact a Myrtle Beach workplace discrimination lawyer in order to hold the employer accountable for their discriminatory actions.

Disparate Impact In The Workplace

Unlike disparate treatment, which involves intentional discrimination, disparate impact is typically unintentional. Disparate impact in the workplace occurs when neutral policies or practices that are seemingly neutral result in a disproportionate effect on individuals belonging to protected classes. I an employer enforces a requirement of a certain level of education for a job position that is unrelated to job performance, it could disproportionately exclude candidates of a particular protected class. This unintentional bias in the workplace or in hiring practices can still lead to discriminatory outcomes.

For example, if a construction company holds a policy requiring all job applicants to pass a physical fitness test, which disproportionately excludes women due to inherent physiological differences, it could be regarded as disparate impact discrimination. It’s essential for employers and companies to recognize and address any policies or practices that unintentionally put employees or applicants with a protected class at a disadvantage to create fairness and compliance with anti-discrimination laws.

Proving disparate impact in a discrimination case involves a systematic approach aimed at proving how certain policies or practices within an organization adversely and disparately affect members of protected classes. In order to prove disparate impact on protected classes, individuals must:

  1. Identify The Disparate Policy – The initial step in proving disparate impact is identifying the specific policy or practice under scrutiny.
  2. Establish Harm/Adversity – It’s imperative to establish the adverse impact or harm caused by this policy or practice enacted by the company. This involves demonstrating that the policy disproportionately affects certain individuals based on their protected class status.
  3. Prove Significant Disparity -The next step is to establish significant disparity by quantifying and illustrating the extent of the adverse impact on the protected group compared to other groups employed by the company.
  4. Demonstrate Causation – Finally, causation must be established to link the adverse impact directly to the policy or practice in question.

If you are having trouble fulfilling these criteria, our discrimination lawyers at The Lovely Law Firm can help you build a robust case to address and rectify instances of disparate impact discrimination in the workplace.

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Harassment In The Workplace

Workplace harassment includes unwelcome behavior based on protected characteristics that creates a hostile work environment or leads to disadvantageous employment decisions. This can include:

  • Offensive jokes
  • Slurs
  • Intimidation
  • Other verbal or physical conduct that targets an individual’s:
    • Race
    • Color
    • National origin
    • Sex
    • Religion
    • Disability
    • Age
    • Genetic information
    • Sexual harassment in the workplace, such as pressure for dates or sexual favors, unwelcome sexual comments or advances

According to the EEOC, workplace harassment might involve racially derogatory jokes, pressure for dates or sexual favors, unwelcome comments about someone’s religious beliefs or attire, or offensive graffiti or images. It’s important to note that harassment is illegal, especially when it occurs as a response to reporting discrimination or discussing it with authorities like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC). This is in an effort to provide protection against retaliation and allows individuals to exercise their rights without fear of further mistreatment.

Proving workplace harassment can be challenging, as it often occurs without warning and may be brief in duration. Harassers in the workplace may also attempt to deny or downplay their actions, often stating the individual misinterpreted them. To substantiate and prove a claim of harassment in the workplace, victims must approach their case with meticulousness and determination. Building a strong harassment case involves:

  • Establishing a timeline of events of the harassment
  • Documenting instances of harassment, including filming and collecting emails or notes from coworkers or employers
  • Seeking out witnesses who can corroborate the harassment

By gathering evidence and organizing a full account of the harassment experienced in the workplace, individuals increase their chances of effectively demonstrating its existence, as well as pursuing justice for having to endure it.

Legal Protections Against Discrimination

There are several federal laws in place to safeguard employees from unlawful discrimination in the workplace. It is very important for employees to familiarize themselves with these discrimination laws to prevent discrimination from taking place and to assert their rights effectively. Being up to date with these laws empowers individuals to recognize and address instances of discrimination, therefore creating a fair and equitable work environment for all.

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Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a pivotal federal law that prohibits workplace discrimination and sets the stage for defining protected classes. Specifically, Title VII makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against individuals on the basis of:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, and gender identity)
  • National origin

Title VII also prohibits employer or colleague retaliation against those who report discrimination, file charges with agencies like the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), or participate in discrimination investigations or lawsuits. It is also the law that prohibits disparate impact, disparate treatment, and harassment in the workplace.

This all-inclusive piece of legislation covers all aspects of employment, including:

  • Hiring
  • Compensation
  • Promotions
  • Training
  • Benefits
  • All other terms and conditions of employment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also mandates that employers must accommodate sincere religious beliefs, must avoid making employment decisions based on stereotypes or stigmas, and cannot deny job opportunities based on an individual’s relationship with someone of a particular protected class. Overall, Title VII serves as a cornerstone and laid the groundwork for promoting equality and fairness in the workplace, allowing individuals to be judged based on their merits rather than immutable characteristics.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA)

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) was established in 1967, and serves as vital protection for individuals aged 40 and older against discrimination in various aspects of employment. This is especially important at many individuals are unable to receive their full Social Security retirement payments until age 65, requiring many to hold jobs and earn wages to pay for their livelihoods.

Enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the ADEA not only prohibits certain actions such as firing or refusing to hire individuals purely based on age, but also extends to other employment decisions. This federal legislation prohibits employers from engaging in discriminatory practices based on:

  • Age during hiring
  • Promotion
  • Termination
  • Compensation
  • Any other terms and conditions of employment.

This includes promotions and demotions, making sure that age is not a determining factor in these types of work-related matters. By providing guidelines to employers on creating inclusivity across all age groups and providing legal safeguards for older workers, the ADEA plays a crucial role in promoting fairness and equality in the workplace.

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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), enacted in 1990, stands as a fundamental principle in the protection of disability rights, as they are civil rights. Surrounding various aspects of public life, including employment, the ADA ensures equal treatment for individuals with disabilities. Like other civil rights laws addressing protected classes such as race, color, sex, national origin, etc., the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability. It guarantees that individuals with disabilities have the same access to opportunities as everyone else, whether in:

  • Employment
  • Purchasing goods and services
  • Participating in governmental programs

Under the ADA, a person with a disability is defined as a person:

  1. With a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major aspects of life
  2. Someone with a history or record of an impairment
  3. Someone perceived by others as having such an impairment

This broad definition allows comprehensive protection for those who may face discrimination due to their disability status, making a point to provide equal opportunities for all without the need for application or qualification.

Pregnancy Discrimination Act

The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was implemented in 1978, and was intended as an amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to explicitly prohibit sex discrimination based on pregnancy. Under Title VII, discrimination related to pregnancy includes various aspects, including:

  • Current pregnancy
  • Past pregnancy
  • Potential for pregnancy
  • Medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth
  • Decisions regarding abortion
  • Access to contraception

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) also mandates covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations for workers’ limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or medical conditions associated with either, unless such accommodations pose an undue hardship on the employer.

The Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibits discrimination against applicants or employees based on pregnancy related disabilities, such as gestational diabetes, which is hereditary. While pregnancy itself is not classified as a disability under the ADA, individuals develop impairments stemming from pregnancy are entitled to reasonable accommodations to address their specific needs. These laws and protections related to pregnancy collectively ensure that pregnant employees are protected from discrimination and afforded necessary accommodations to maintain their health and equal opportunities in the workplace.

Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA)

The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 is designed to protect individuals from discrimination based on their genetic information. Under Title II of GINA, it is illegal for employers or other covered entities, such as employment agencies and labor organizations, to discriminate against employees or applicants due to their genetic information. The GINA law prohibits the use of genetic information in employment decisions and imposes strict restrictions on requesting, requiring, or purchasing genetic information.

GINA also strictly limits the disclosure of genetic information to ensure individuals’ privacy and prevent misuse of information. Genetic information includes not only an individual’s own genetic tests but also those of their family members, as well as any information about family medical history. By including these restrictions, GINA aims to safeguard individuals from workplace discrimination based on their genetic predispositions and medical history, thus promoting fairness and equality in the workplace.

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Equal Pay Act (EPA)

The Equal Pay Act (EPA), was created in 1963 as an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, and serves as a vital provision in combating wage discrimination based on gender. Despite its passage over half a century ago, inequalities in pay still exist, particularly concerning women’s monetary and benefit earnings compared to their male counterparts. Under the EPA, men and women performing substantially equal work under the same employer are entitled to receive equal pay.

It’s important to note that the jobs don’t need to be identical in title or status but must be similar in terms of job content. The law covers various forms of workplace compensation, including:

  • Salary
  • Bonuses
  • Stock options
  • Benefits such as vacation and holiday pay.

It’s important to note that the EPA prohibits employers from reducing the wages of either gender to correct any wage disparities. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also complements the EPA by prohibiting sex-based discrimination in pay and benefits. Therefore, individuals with EPA claims may also have legal recourse under Title VII, further strengthening their protections against unequal pay practices.

Have You Experienced Discrimination In The Workplace? Contact A South Carolina Workplace Discrimination Attorney Today!

If you believe you’ve been a victim of workplace discrimination based on your membership in a protected class in Myrtle Beach, it’s important to seek legal assistance from a South Carolina discrimination lawyer at The Lovely Law Firm. Our dedicated team is ready to address your concerns, answer any questions you may have, and provide guidance throughout the legal process. We are committed to holding both individuals and employers accountable for discriminatory behavior as we strive to foster a workplace environment where everyone is treated fairly and with respect. Feel free to contact our team of skilled workplace discrimination lawyers in South Carolina at The Lovely Law Firm. We’re here to guide and assist those who have encountered age-based discrimination or wrongful termination. Our commitment is to advocate for your rights and pursue justice in employment matters.

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