The South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act was signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster on May 17, 2018. Although existing federal and state laws prohibit employers from discriminating based on pregnancy, these laws do not necessarily protect employees by requiring employers to make reasonable accommodations for pregnancy-related issues. The new law seeks to expand the protections by requiring employers to make certain accommodations. The law is in effect now. Therefore, you should consult our South Carolina labor and employment lawyer immediately with any questions or concerns about the protections and requirements under the new law.
What Do I Need to Know About the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act?
The Act covers employees and applicants for employment who have medical needs or medical conditions related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The law applies to employers with 15 or more employees. Some of the requirements included in the Act are:
- Employers must provide certain accommodations. Employers should have accessible facilities and make reasonable accommodations, including providing accommodations for lactation-related issues. An exception would be if the employer can demonstrate the accommodation imposes an undue hardship on business operations.
- An employee may not be forced to take a leave of absence to avoid making accommodations. An employer cannot force an employee to take leave from work if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
- Employers are prohibited from taking adverse actions. If an employee requests or uses a reasonable accommodation in compliance with the law, the employer is barred from taking adverse actions related to the terms, privileges, or conditions of employment.
- An employee cannot be forced to accept accommodations. The employer cannot force an employee to accept an accommodation if the employee wants to perform her job duties or essential functions of the job without the accommodation.
- Employers must post a notice. An employer must post a notice and provide notice to new employees of the right to be free from discrimination related to pregnancy, childbirth, and other related medical conditions.
- Employees may not be entitled to light duty. An employer is not required to offer light duty or create a new job for an employee if the employer would not do the same for another employer with an equivalent need.
- Employees may not be paid for longer or more frequent break periods. Even though the Act lists longer or more frequent break periods as an example of reasonable accommodation, the Act also does not require the employer to pay the employee for these additional or longer breaks unless the break would otherwise be compensated.
To read all the provisions of the Act, you can access a copy of the bill online from the SC State House.
Contact a South Carolina Employment Lawyer
Many of the provisions of the new law are covered by other federal and state laws. However, the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act expands on some of those protections and provides specific examples of reasonable accommodations. It is important that you understand the rights and duties outlined in the Act to avoid any issues or problems.
Schedule a consult with a member of our team at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, P.A. today. Our South Carolina employment lawyers can answer questions and provide advice regarding this new law that protects expectant mothers and mothers in the workplace.