South Carolina and federal laws protect Columbia-area employees from discrimination and unfair employment practices. Violations still frequently occur. Action or inaction of employers can jeopardize your income and career. An employment attorney can serve as your advocate and prove a violation of state or federal employment law.
Employment attorneys can also help where no employment law violations or adverse actions exist. They can review or negotiate employment contracts, offer letters, non-compete agreements, and other essential documents to ensure the terms meet your needs. Employment attorneys may also represent employees in cases where multiple workers are affected by an employment law violation.
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What Does a Columbia, South Carolina, Employment Lawyer Do?
Columbia-area employment attorneys help workers protect their livelihoods. They step in to stop illegal and unfair practices. Employment attorneys also review employment contracts and other documentation. If an employer who violates laws affects a group or class of employees, a group lawsuit can create change for many.
South Carolina and federal laws and employment regulations affect employment. They impact everything from job offers through employment and termination. Regardless of an employee’s position, employment attorneys can file complaints without fear of revenge by their employers.
Employment attorneys help keep workers from becoming victims of illegal or discriminatory practices. They help workers build cases to prove that wrongdoing occurred. Employment attorneys also prove whether employees are eligible for unemployment compensation.
What Is At-Will Employment, and Why Is It Important in South Carolina?
South Carolina is an at-will employment state. This status affects employment law because it allows workers to quit for any reason without notice. It also allows employers to terminate employees at any time for any reason. State and federal laws offer protection from unfair employment practices and discrimination.
Employers in at-will employment states still have to follow laws covering everything from hiring practices to how employees get paid. Employment decisions that discriminate against workers for race, color, age, sex, handicap or disability, national origin, or religion are illegal.
What Types of Cases Does a Columbia Employment Attorney Handle?
Columbia employment attorneys take on various cases involving multiple industries. They represent employees ranging from hourly workers to executives. Types of cases include:
- Sexual harassment: This type of harassment violates South Carolina and federal laws. Employers must be proactive in preventing it from happening. Workers who experience sexual harassment should report the incident to their manager or human resources department. They may lose some legal rights if they leave their jobs.
- Discrimination: Prejudice can take many forms, all of which are against South Carolina and federal laws. Many target specific forms of discrimination. Employees should not be treated differently due to their gender, race and national origin, age, religion, or pregnancy status. Bias may affect hiring and firing, unfair workplace policies, and create a hostile work environment. Laws target protected populations. These populations include workers older than 40, people who identify with a religious faith, and pregnant employees.
- Payments: How employees are paid or not paid can lead to cases filed by an employment attorney. Cases may include not paying employees or not compensating them for overtime. A business may mislabel employees or violate minimum wage laws. Mislabeling an employee as a contractor to avoid paying benefits may be illegal depending on the job. Employers may also unfairly handle commissions or tips. Bad policies may lead to class and collective legal action for affected employee groups.
- Whistleblowers: Those who report unfair or illegal practices are protected from revenge by their employers. Laws that protect whistleblowers can provide extra compensation for taking the risk to report violations. It can also include regaining jobs for those unlawfully fired.
- Revenge: State and federal laws protect against workplace revenge. If you report a violation, an employer cannot fire you.
- Agreements and contracts: These documents may require review and negotiation on your behalf by an attorney. Offer letters, employment contracts, non-compete and trade secret agreements, and termination agreements may not be in the employee’s best interest. Such arrangements often protect only the employer. They’re legally binding if they reasonably protect the business without being too restrictive on the employee.
- Benefits: Help may involve the protection of benefits like stock options and deferred compensation.
Can a Lawyer Help Me Get Unemployment in Columbia?
Applying for unemployment is often a straightforward process that workers can complete online. In South Carolina, workers who lose their jobs due to no fault of their own or have their hours reduced may qualify for unemployment.
Challenges in securing unemployment may require an employment attorney. Typical applications for unemployment include information about yourself, your job, and how long you have been working for your company. Other information includes your income from the job and other sources. Your employer validates the information with the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce.
Instances of denial of unemployment benefits that require appeals may require an attorney to help you receive benefits. Applicants with valid unemployment applications may also require the assistance of an attorney in some instances, including:
- Unfair termination of employment that violates employment laws can result in gaining unemployment benefits. You may also get additional compensation depending on the situation. Illegal actions need to be proven when employers terminate workers in an at-will employment state for age or filing complaints.
- Employees who are fired for misconduct or voluntarily leave their jobs usually cannot collect unemployment benefits. Extenuating circumstances can help workers qualify for unemployment benefits with the help of an employment attorney.
- Unemployment applicants who feel they deserve benefits denied to them could use an employment attorney’s assistance. The attorney would file the necessary paperwork and represent them in appeals hearings.
How Do You Choose an Employment Attorney in Columbia?
Employment law has many gray areas. At-will employment where employees and their employers may terminate their relationship at any time for any valid reason is one of them. An attorney can assist in law violations that occur during employment. Workers have to prove their cases and follow complex statutes and procedures to resolve their cases.
An employment attorney who’s a good fit for your situation will make you feel comfortable with the process. This lawyer will also be transparent in sharing information and help you develop a strategy to receive the outcome you deserve. When interviewing a prospective employment attorney, make sure the person has experience handling cases similar to yours. You’ll want to balance attorney fees or contingency fees with the expected payout. This approach will help you decide if the cost is worth the potential reward.
Many victims of unfair employment practices never lodge formal complaints or seek compensation or other action from their employer. Due to the burden of proof placed on the employee, you need to collect relevant information to determine whether your case has merit:
- Details are vital to the case: Dates, names, records, and any other information can help prove wrongdoing. When collecting data, be sure not to access or steal items from your employer or others illegally.
- File a formal complaint through your manager or human resources: Filing complaints is a protected activity. You shouldn’t experience revenge or termination of your employment from expressing your concerns.
- Consult an employment attorney: An attorney will review the circumstances of your case and help you create a plan of action to receive the settlement you deserve.
How Much Does an Employment Attorney Cost in Columbia?
Employment attorneys offer a free initial consultation. When you sit down with your attorney, you’ll get to review the details of your case. This review provides an opportunity for you to ask questions. Additionally, you can also determine whether you’re comfortable with the attorney. In turn, an employment attorney will also discuss potential outcomes and fees involved in the case.
In South Carolina, attorneys charge three types of fees:
- Contingency fees: An attorney receives an agreed-upon percentage of the payout after a case comes to an end. Contingency fees for unemployment cases typically range from 15% to 30%. Costs for other types of cases like harassment may vary further depending on the circumstances.
- Flat fees: These fees are the same regardless of the outcome of a case or how long it takes to end.
- Hourly fees: An attorney is paid by the hour to review documents, draft agreements, and represent clients. Hourly fees may apply to employment cases. They can also apply to services like document drafting and contract negotiations.
Contact our Employment Attorneys in Columbia, SC
It’s essential to consider the expected payout when an employment case concludes, as well as the merit your case has to be successful, in addition to the attorney fees. Employment attorneys will seek a fair and prompt conclusion to cases. If you or a family member is affected by an employment law issue, contact The Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, P.C. for a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can call us at any number below or complete our online form.
2000 Park St #102
Columbia, SC 29201