NEW SOUTH CAROLINA LAW REQUIRES EMPLOYERS TO PROVIDE ACCOMMODATIONS FOR PREGNANCY AND RELATED CONDITIONS
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The PDA amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to clarify that the prohibition against sex discrimination in employment includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. Nevertheless, pregnancy discrimination in the workplace persists. Since the passage of the PDA, states have taken the lead in addressing pregnancy discrimination and expanding pregnant employees’ rights on a local level.
On May 17, 2018, Governor McMaster signed the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act. It provides South Carolina employees and applicants with additional protections. The Act amends South Carolina’s Human Affairs Law and makes it unlawful for an employer to fail or refuse to make reasonable accommodations for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions of an applicant or employee unless the employer can demonstrate that the accommodation would impose an undue hardship on the operation of the employer’s business.
What are reasonable accommodations?
The Act provides the following as some examples of reasonable accommodations:
- Providing more frequent or longer break periods.
- Providing more frequent bathroom breaks.
- Providing a private place, other than a bathroom stall, for the purpose of expressing milk.
- Modifying food or drink policy
- Providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires the employee to stand.
- Providing assistance with manual labor and limits on lifting.
- Temporarily transferring the employee to a less strenuous or hazardous vacant position, if qualified.
- Providing job restructuring or light duty, if available.
- Acquiring or modifying equipment or devices necessary for performing essential job functions.
- Modifying work schedules.
Is an employee required to accept the accommodation or leave?
No. Importantly, the Act makes it unlawful for an employer to require an applicant or an employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to accept an accommodation:
(1) If the applicant or employee does not have a known limitation related to pregnancy, or
(2) If the accommodation is unnecessary for the applicant or employee to perform the essential duties of her job.
The Act also makes it unlawful to require an employee to take leave if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
What are the notice and posting requirements?
By September 14, 2018, employers must provide employees with written notice of the right to be free from discrimination for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions pursuant to the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act and post the written notice. MBA anticipates the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission will provide a model notice around September. We will notify clients if it does.
Would you like to learn more about the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act or pregnancy discrimination laws in your state? Please contact one of our HR Consultants at 888-622-6460.