South Carolina is not known as a hotbed of legislative action protecting employee rights, let alone creating new ones. However, several bills are pending in the state legislature that, if passed, would impact South Carolina employers by instituting changes to employment applications, the minimum wage, and credit checks, as well as expanding protections against discrimination.
Ban the Box
House Bill 3463 is a ban-the-box proposal that would prohibit employment applications from including questions related to convictions of a crime, unless the crime directly relates to the position sought. This bill would also provide other requirements designed to give applicants with criminal histories a better opportunity to be hired. The bill also places requirements on public employers and licensing authorities to conduct job-relatedness analyses (taking into account the nature of the crime and the nature of the job) when considering criminal information. In essence, the bill seeks to alter what employers can include on an employment application and the manner in which certain employers can consider criminal history information.
Two bills could impact the minimum wage rate in South Carolina: House Bill 3395 and House Bill 3217. House Bill 3395 proposes a minimum wage rate that would gradually increase over a three-year period to $12.00 per hour in 2022. House Bill 3217 proposes a gradual minimum wage hike to $10.10 per hour in 2022. Both bills suggest using the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers for the South Region to calculate future adjustments to the minimum wage. As the South Carolina minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, these laws would present a drastic change for South Carolina employers.
In keeping with trends across the country, House Bill 3326 proposes to make it an unlawful employment practice to refuse to hire an individual based on the applicant’s credit history or credit report. However, there would be some exceptions, likely for positions in banks and other jobs in which credit history may be job-related.
Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation
House Bill 3239 proposes to amend South Carolina law to make it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate based on gender identity and sexual orientation. This bill proposes these changes be made to the State Human Affairs Commission’s policy, which currently mirrors federal law on discrimination. If passed, this expansion would make South Carolina one of the first Southern states to adopt such protections.
We will continue to monitor these and other legislative developments that might impact South Carolina businesses and keep you apprised as the year progresses.