The South Dakota sexual discrimination law in the workplace doesn’t strictly follow the federal laws. Instead, South Dakota has its own law on the matter: the South Dakota Human Relations Act of 1972.
Under this Act, an “employer” is anyone within the state of South Dakota that has an employee and anyone, anywhere that has employees that work in South Dakota. This differs from the federal laws on the subject since Title VII applies only to those employers who have fifteen or more employees while South Dakota law applies to all employers regardless of the number of employees. Employees in South Dakota are those who are employed by an employer as defined above.
According to the law, employers cannot make decisions determining the conditions, terms and compensation of employment based on the individual’s sex. This also includes denying, preventing, limiting or affecting a person’s employment.
If you think your civil rights have been violated, you can file a complaint with the South Dakota Department of Labor Division of Human Rights within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory act. To file the complaint, you’ll be required to fill out an intake form and they will draft a formal charge that you’ll need to sign.
From there the Commission will send a copy of the complaint to your employer and give him or her a chance to respond to your allegations. Then, an investigator will collect relevant information surrounding your case as well as decide whether or not there is reasonable cause to believe that your rights have been violated.
If the investigator does find reasonable cause, you and your employer will enter a settlement process. If this fails, you case might go to public hearing or you can request a “Right to Sue” letter.
Employers and employees need to stay informed on their rights and regulations in the workplace. Additionally, all employers should keep a current South Dakota Complete Labor Law Poster available in the workplace.
During my research into sexual harassment laws across the States, I found that most sexual harassment claims are brought into the Federal courts because they are under Federal law. Each state has its own civil rights law that state that sexual harassment is unlawful and punishable in court and each of these laws is guided by the Federal laws.
The state laws also cover the same ground as Title IX, which states that men and women should be treated equally in the workplace and that states may not discriminate based on gender. These state laws have provided a possible cause of action for sexual harassment because the entire issue of sexual harassment still seems to be wrought within a grey area, I’ve found.
In South Dakota, if an employee feels that he or she has been sexually harassed in the workplace, then he or she needs to file a claim with the Commission on Human Affairs, a division of the state government. The individual believing to have been sexually harassed has a limited amount of time (180 days) from the date of the alleged harassment in order to file the claim. This time limit is common across the states.
Once the claim is filed with the state, it will be automatically cross-filed with the federal government as well. However, if you choose to file with the Federal government first instead of with the state government, then you should know that the deadline is longer and the Federal government will, in turn, cross-file the complaint with the state.
Many people believing to have received sexual harassment in the workplace choose to also consult an attorney. The attorney can take care of the filing for you and will argue your case on a state or federal level if the case is accepted.