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Administrative Law Court
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SC Administrative Law Court Decisions

Gerald Carter, #175348 vs. SCDOC

South Carolina Department of Corrections

Gerald Carter, #175348

South Carolina Department of Corrections





This matter comes before the Administrative Law Court (“ALC” or “Court”) pursuant to the notice of appeal filed by inmate Gerald Carter (“Inmate”), an inmate incarcerated with the South Carolina Department of Corrections (“SCDC” or “Department”) since January 14, 1990, after he was convicted of murder. In his Notice of Appeal, Inmate specifically requests the prevailing wage based on the holding in Wicker v. S.C. Dep’t of Corr., 360 S.C. 421, 602 S.E.2d 56 (2004). Inmate alleges the Department violated the South Carolina Prevailing Wage Statute, S.C. Code Ann. § 24-3-430(D) (Supp. 2002). Inmate also states he “believes that he is entitled to 3 times the prevailing wages and interest on the amount withheld from him.” Inmate asserts Justice Pleicones’ concurring opinion in Adkins, et al. v. S.C. Dep’t of Corr., 360 S.C. 413, 602 S.E.2d 51 (2004) to support his position.


The Court's jurisdiction to hear this matter is derived entirely from the decision of the South Carolina Supreme Court in Al-Shabazz v. State, 338 S.C. 354, 527 S.E.2d 742 (2000). The Court's appellate jurisdiction in inmate appeals is limited to state created liberty interests typically involving: (1) cases in which an inmate contends that prison officials have erroneously calculated his sentence, sentence-related credits, or custody status; and (2) cases in which an inmate has received punishment in a major disciplinary hearing as a result of a serious rule violation. Id. However, the South Carolina Supreme Court recognizes a limited Administrative Law Court jurisdictional exception “where inmate claims deprivation of property interest.” Slezak v. SC Dep’t of Corr., 361 S.C. 327, 330, 605 S.E.2d 506, 507 (2004), citing Wicker. This case involves an inmate claiming deprivation of a property interest. The facts of this case are similar to the facts in Wicker. Therefore, this Court has jurisdiction over this appeal.

Prevailing Wage

Inmate claims he is entitled to the prevailing wage for the time he worked at WESEW. Wicker makes it clear “that there is nothing in the statutory scheme authorizing the DOC to pay…a training wage less than the prevailing wage.” Wicker, 360 S.C. at 425, 602 S.E.2d at 58. S.C. Code Ann. § 24-3-430(D) states, “No inmate participating in the (prison industry) program may earn less than the prevailing wage for work of similar nature in the private sector.” However, this section did not become law until July 1, 1995. See S.C. Code Ann. § 24-3-430.

The problem is the record in this case does not indicate the number of hours Inmate worked at WESEW, nor the dates Inmate worked at WESEW. The only dates Inmate is eligible to receive the prevailing wage are from July 1, 1995 (the date the statute took effect) to November 1995 (the end date of the prison industries project at WESEW). Inmate is entitled to the difference between the prevailing wage and any wage paid for any hours worked during this time period.

Unpaid Wages Times Three

Inmate claims he is also entitled to three times the full amount of unpaid wages while working at WESEW. Inmate’s claim is under S.C. Code Ann. § 41-10-80(C) which appears to be based on Justice Pleicones’ concurring opinion in Adkins. S.C. Code Ann. § 41-10-80(C) states:

In case of any failure to pay wages due to an employee as required by Section 41-10-40 or 41-10-50 the employee may recover in a civil action an amount equal to three times the full amount of the unpaid wages, plus costs and reasonable attorney’s fees as the court may allow…

The majority opinion in Adkins clearly rejected Justice Pleicones’ concurrence on this issue, citing S.C. Code Ann. § 24-3-430(F). See S.C. Code Ann. § 24-3-430(F) and Adkins, 360 S.C. at 419 n.7, 602 S.E.2d at 55 n.7. S.C. Code Ann. § 24-3-430(F) makes it clear that “no inmate compensated for participation in the (prison industry) program is considered an employee of the State.” Adkins therefore held that “Inmates have no private civil cause of action” under 41-10-80. Adkins, 360 S.C. at 419, 602 S.E.2d at 55. As a result, Inmate is not entitled to three times the full amount of unpaid wages while working at WESEW.


IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED that the Department determine from its records the number of hours Inmate worked at WESEW from July 1, 1995 through the date the program ended at WESEW. The Department is then ORDERED to calculate the wages owed to Inmate at the prevailing wage at the time in question and to pay Inmate the difference between the wages earned and the wages paid.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Department provide proof to this Court that payment to Inmate has been made.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that this payment be made within thirty (30) days of the date of this order.



John D. McLeod

Administrative Law Judge

November 21, 2005

Columbia, South Carolina

Brown Bldg.






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