The primary purpose of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission is to administer and enforce the South Carolina Human Affairs Law, the South Carolina Fair Housing Law, and the Equal Enjoyment and Privileges to Public Accommodations Act. The major objective of each law is the prevention and elimination of unlawful discrimination.
The South Carolina Human Affairs Law, enacted in 1972, created the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. The law was implemented to promote harmony and the improvement of human affairs in South Carolina and to allow for maximum development of the State economically, educationally and socially. The Commission administers the law in several ways. Its primary activities include investigating and attempting to resolve charges alleging unlawful discrimination; monitoring the employment practices and affirmative action efforts of state government agencies; providing training and technical assistance to employers and others who seek to comply with the Human Affairs Law; and conducting a study of problems which threaten the objectives of the Law, in order to promote better community relations and interracial harmony.
The South Carolina Fair Housing Law was enacted in 1989 and gave the Commission jurisdiction to investigate all fair housing complaints in the State. Under the Fair Housing Law, it is unlawful to refuse to sell or rent a dwelling on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or handicapping condition. It is also unlawful to discriminate in terms and conditions of a rental or sale, or to threaten someone due to any protected basis.
The Equal Enjoyment and Privileges to Public Accommodations Act was enacted by the State General Assembly in 1990. This historic legislation provides that all persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodations without discrimination or segregation on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. Examples of the types of public establishments covered by the law include any inn, motel, hotel or other lodging business; any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter or soda fountain; any hospital or clinic; any retail or wholesale establishment; and any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, billiard parlor, saloon, bar room, golf course, sports arena, stadium or any other recreational area.
The Commission's enforcement powers are broad and strong. The agency has the authority to subpoena witnesses, issue orders, hold hearings and enforce findings. Its jurisdiction covers the public and private sectors. If a problem is not related to these areas, the Commission attempts to resolve the issue by conference, conciliation or persuasion.