South Carolina employers face a challenging legal environment. An employee can make a sexual harassment claim against you or your company at any time. Defending against a sexual harassment claim can harm your business’s reputation. If you, your business, or one of your co-workers has been charged with sexual harassment, it’s important that you speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
At Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, we help employers in Florence and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, protect their company’s rights. We can also help dissuade former employees from proceeding against your company with a meritless accusation. Contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, today to learn more about how we can represent you.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in South Carolina?
South Carolina follows federal laws regarding sexual harassment claims in the workplace. The United States equal employment opportunity commission (EEOC) states that “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment.” Under the South Carolina Human Affairs Law, it’s against the law for an employer, labor organization, or employment agency to discriminate against an individual based on their sex.
The defendant can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a co-worker, or even a non-employee. Sexual harassment can occur in a wide range of circumstances and doesn’t have to involve people of the opposite sex.
The Sout Carolina Sexual Harassment Claims Process
Alleged victims of sexual harassment must file a Title VII charge with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) within 180 days of the alleged act. If less than 300 days have passed, the alleged victim can still file after 180 days. The claim would be transferred from SCHAC to the EEOC in that case.
In South Carolina, the plaintiff needs to exhaust the possible remedies before he or she can file a lawsuit. In other words, the plaintiff needs to report the harassment to his or her employer and follow the business’s procedures. After completing that process, the individual needs to report the sexual harassment to SCAC or the EEOC. Once the alleged victim has received the right-to-sue letter, he or she can choose to file a civil lawsuit.
Types of Workplace Harassment in South Carolina
There are two main types of unlawful sexual harassment in South Carolina: quid pro quo and a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when a person with authority demands sexual favors from an employee in exchange for a favorable employment action, such as a promotion, hiring, retention, or increase in pay. The second type of unlawful harassment involves creating a hostile work environment. An employee can claim that a hostile work environment has occurred when unwelcome sexual conduct unreasonably interferes with an individual’s job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
The Benefits of Hiring a Sexual Harassment Attorney
If one of your employees has been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s essential that you reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you navigate this serious situation while protecting your business and your reputation. Sometimes businesses assume that they can handle the harassment claim in-house with their human resources department or by the company’s owner handling the situation.
It isn’t wise to try to handle a sexual harassment claim yourself, especially if you own a small to mid-size business. We recommend working with an outside attorney unless you have in-house legal counsel who can address the accusation. It’s important that you hire an attorney as soon as you become aware of the allegations. Your attorney can begin taking steps to protect you and your business, gathering evidence, and negotiating the best outcome possible. The sooner a skilled attorney gets involved, the more likely you will be able to defend yourself adequately.
Gathering Evidence for Your Defense
Being accused of sexual harassment can be highly stressful and overwhelming. Proving that something didn’t happen may seem difficult. In many cases, harassment is a matter of perception of what happened. The accuser may claim that something happened that you perceive to be completely innocent and not considered sexual harassment. In other cases, there may have been a history of flirting in text messages or emails until, one day, something changed.
Suddenly those messages were no longer welcome or were being used against you to prove that sexual harassment occurred. It’s essential that you work with an attorney as soon as you become aware of the accusations. Your attorney can begin gathering all evidence you have to support your case, including emails and text messages. Gathering eyewitness accounts can also be important. The more time passes after the alleged incident, the more difficult it is for witnesses to remember what happened accurately.
If your business faces a sexual harassment claim, you deserve an employment attorney who will fight for you. Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, has a proven track record of advocating for South Carolina businesses. For over 100 years, we have successfully prevented lawsuits from being filed by negotiating with opposing counsel at an early stage. Should the case proceed to trial, our trial-ready attorneys are prepared to pursue summary judgment, obtain voluntary dismissal with prejudice, and take every action necessary to protect and defend your business.
Contact a South Carolina Sexual Harassment Defense Attorney Today
If you or your business is facing a claim of sexual harassment from a former employee, you need an experienced employment defense attorney who will advocate strongly for you. The attorneys at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, have a strong track record of preventing frivolous lawsuits from being filed by engaging opposing counsel in the early stages of the claim. Contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA today to schedule an initial consultation and learn more about how we can protect you.