For South Carolina employees, what is the deadline to file an EEOC charge for unlawful discrimination and harassment? For most discrimination and harassment claims at work, an employee’s first step is to file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). I’ve written previously about what the EEOC is and does; how to navigate the EEOC process (and what that process entails); and how the EEOC mediation process works. What I want to focus on in this post is the timing requirements (think: statute of limitations) for filing an EEOC charge. In South Carolina, the deadline is 300 days from the act of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. But there are certain nuances of that basic rule for you to be aware of.
Just as a refresher, the EEOC handles claims brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and other anti-discrimination statues for age and disabilities. These laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of age, race, sex, national origin, religion and disability. They also prohibit retaliation against an employee for reporting discrimination or harassment to management and HR. That means, if you complain to HR or your manager about harassment and then you get suddenly fired, demoted, or suspended without cause, then you may have a claim for unlawful retaliation.
For some states, the deadline to file a charge is 180 days. But in South Carolina, the deadline is actually 300 days. For cases involving a retaliatory discharge (meaning you were fired for reporting harassment or discrimination), the date that starts the 300 day clock is the date of termination or date you learned of your termination. For discrimination and harassment claims, the employee may have been subjected to such illegal treatment over a long period of time. These types of “continuing violations” (as the courts call them) often pop up in hostile work environment claims, where an employee is harassed many times over an extended period of work. In those cases, the standard is that at least one of the acts of hostility must fall within the 300 day time period. For claims involving discrimination in compensation (men getting paid more than women for the same work), then each new pay period constitutes a new violation of the Equal Pay Act.
The big takeaway here is that there are very specific deadlines that apply to harassment and discrimination claims. If you miss the deadline to file with the EEOC, then you will not be permitted to pursue the claim in court.
As always, speaking with a South Carolina employment lawyer about your situation is recommended. That way you can know your rights and fight back against unlawful harassment or discrimination in the workplace.