South Carolina              
Administrative Law Court
Edgar A. Brown building 1205 Pendleton St., Suite 224 Columbia, SC 29201 Voice: (803) 734-0550

SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

James Green, #200970 vs. SCDOR

South Carolina Department of Corrections

James Green, #200970

South Carolina Department of Corrections



Grievance No. LCI 0221-04


In the above-captioned matter, Appellant James Green (“Green”) appeals the decision of Respondent South Carolina Department of Corrections (“Department”) to deny his grievance concerning payment of the prevailing wage he argues is owed to him for work performed in the Prison Industries private sector program (“prison industries program”). In response to Green’s grievance, the Department contends that Green is incorrectly basing his appeal upon S.C. Code Ann. § 41-10-80(C), South Carolina Payment of Wages Act. Based upon the record on appeal, the parties’ briefs, and the applicable law, the Department’s decision to deny Appellant’s grievance must be affirmed.


On November 1, 2004, Green submitted a Step One Grievance to the Department and argued that he was entitled to payment of the prevailing wage for work he performed in the prison industries program. The Department denied his grievance on April 7, 2005. Green submitted his Step Two grievance on April 18, 2005 and again challenged the same issues contained in his Step One form. In response, the Department issued its final agency decision by informing Green that the South Carolina Payment of Wages Act was not applicable to his grievance, and therefore, his grievance was denied. Based upon this final decision of the Department, Green filed a Notice of Appeal with the Administrative Law Court (“ALC” or “Court”) on July 13, 2005 to challenge the Department’s determination.


This appeal is before this Court pursuant to Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 527 S.E.2d

742 (2000), Sullivan v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, 355 S.C. 437, 586 S.E.2d 124

(2003), Slezak v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, 361 S.C. 327, 605 S.E.2d 506 (2004), and Furtick v. South Carolina Department of Corrections, 649 S.E.2d 35 (S.C. 2007). Pursuant to Al-Shabazz, an inmate is permitted to seek judicial review with the ALC of Department decisions concerning non-collateral or administrative matters, and the ALC sits in an appellate capacity when reviewing such Department decisions. Al-Shabazz, 338 S.C. at 376, 527 S.E.2d at 754.

In this matter, Green complains that he was not paid the prevailing wage for work performed in the private sector program, as mandated by S.C. Code Ann. § 24-3-430 (Supp. 2005). Specifically, Section 24-3-430(D) clearly provides that “[n]o inmate participating in the [prison industries] program may earn less than the prevailing wage for work of similar nature in the private sector.” Id. The Supreme Court of South Carolina has unequivocally held in Wicker v. South Carolina Dep’t of Corrections, 360 S.C. 421, 602 S.E.2d 56 (2004) that: (1) an inmate is entitled to file a grievance when not being paid the prevailing wage; (2) the ALC has jurisdiction to review the Department’s failure to pay the prevailing wage; and, (3) an inmate is entitled to be paid the prevailing wage while working in the private sector program. Id. at 421, 602 S.E.2d at 56.

In Wicker, the Supreme Court stated that while the inmate has no claim for civil damages, an inmate may challenge the wages he is being paid through the Department’s grievance procedures, particularly where there is a statute mandating payment of the prevailing wage.[1] Wicker, 360 S.C. at 423, 602 S.E.2d at 57.[2] There is nothing in the statutory scheme, as set out in Chapter 3 of Title 24 of the South Carolina Code of Laws, authorizing the Department to pay an inmate less than the prevailing wage. Id. at 425, 602 S.E.2d at 58; S.C. Code Ann. §§ 24-3-310 to -430 (Supp. 2005). Rather, Section 24-3-430 mandates the payment of the prevailing wage to an inmate participating in the prison industries program. S.C. Code Ann. § 24-3-430 (Supp 2005).

Nonetheless, Green is required to timely file his grievance with the Department concerning the payment of prevailing wages. Green began working in the prison industries program in 1995, and he continued working until the program was terminated later that same year. Nearly nine years later, the South Carolina Supreme Court issued Adkins and Wicker in 2004. Pursuant to Department Policy Number GA-01.12, ¶ 13.1, inmates are required to file a grievance within fifteen (15) days of the occurrence of an alleged grievance. Yet, Green did not file his grievance until November 1, 2004, approximately 9 years after he ended participation in the prison industries program. Green’s grievance was clearly filed outside of the required fifteen day timeframe as mandated by Department policy. Accordingly, Green did not timely file his grievance, and the Department’s decision must be AFFIRMED. ALC Rule 65 (“The Administrative Law Judge may affirm any ruling, order or judgment upon any ground(s) appearing in the Record . . . .”); see I’On, L.L.C. v. Town of Mt. Pleasant, 338 S.C. 406, 526 S.E.2d 716 (2000) (stating that the appellate court may affirm for any reason appearing in the record).


IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Department’s decision in this matter is AFFIRMED.



Marvin F. Kittrell

Chief Judge

June 10, 2008

Columbia, South Carolina

[1] In fact, in Adkins v. South Carolina Dept. of Corrections, 360 S.C. 413, 602 S.E.2d 51 (2004), the Supreme Court specifically held that the Department’s “failure to pay a certain wage simply does not constitute a tort so as to be cognizable under the Tort Claims Act.” Id at 54.

[2] Notably, the Court in Wicker did not set the prevailing wage for all inmates. Wicker, 360 S.C. 421, 602 S.E.2d 56 (2004). Rather, the court determined the prevailing wage in the private sector, at that time, and for the work performed by the individual inmate in Wicker. Id. This five dollars and twenty-five cents ($5.25) figure established in Wicker was the prevailing wage for that inmate, and it is not necessarily the prevailing wage in the instant case.


Brown Bldg.






Copyright © 2024 South Carolina Administrative Law Court