Your rights as an employee in South Carolina depend on the situation and the provisions of the relevant federal or state law. Though the employment laws in South Carolina are vast and varied, you can protect yourself at work by learning your rights.
South Carolina adheres to the employment-at-will doctrine. Unless an exception applies, your employer can fire you whenever it wants, for any reason, and you can leave the company any time you choose. Exceptions to the at-will rule arise if you’re hurt, assaulted, discriminated or harassed on the job.
If you get hurt on the job, you might be able to receive partial wage payments, compensation for permanent disabilities, and payments of medical bills. You have 90 days to report the illness and up to two years to file your claim with the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission. If you were assaulted at work, report the incident immediately to the police and your supervisor. The issue may become a criminal, civil or workers’ compensation case.
If you’re being treated unfairly at work, you can file a discrimination claim with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You must fall into a protected class — based on race, national origin, gender, religion, age or disability — and be able to prove you were subject to prejudice on the job. It is illegal for your employer to fire you because you filed a discrimination claim.
Wage and Hour Rights
Wage and hour laws pertain to minimum wage, overtime, final paycheck, rest and meal breaks, work hours, unpaid wages, paycheck deductions and other regulations dealing with wages and hours. Depending on the issue, federal or state law may apply. For example, South Carolina does not have minimum wage and overtime laws, so you are entitled to minimum wage and overtime under federal law. Federal standards for rest and meal breaks also apply. Your employer does not have to provide rest or meal breaks. If it chooses to give short breaks lasting between five and 20 minutes, you must be paid for the time.
Health and Safety
South Carolina has a state Occupational Safety and Health Administration plan that adheres to federal law and contains more stringent state policies for construction, forklift work, spray finishing, and structural fire-fighting areas of employment. In general, you are entitled to a safe and healthful work environment, and the state plan should be at least as effective as federal OSHA standards.
If you lost your job through no fault of your own, you can apply for unemployment benefits through the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. You must meet a number of other requirements to qualify, including being able to work, actively looking for suitable work, and earning a specific amount while you were employed.