South Carolina Implements Pregnancy Accommodations Act

On May 17, 2018, Gov. McMaster signed the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act (HB 3865) into law. HB 3865 was passed in an effort to combat work force pregnancy discrimination by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions and to notify employees of their rights.

The Act amends existing SC law, which now requires employers with at least 15 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or other associated medical conditions (including lactation), unless the employer can show that the accommodation would impose undue hardship on business operations. An “undue hardship” is an action requiring significant difficulty or expense when considering the nature and cost of the accommodation as it relates to size, resources and structure of the employer’s operation.

Examples of reasonable accommodations include making existing facilities accessible, providing a private place to express breastmilk (other than a bathroom stall), modifying food or drink policies, providing seating or permitting sitting if the job requires employee to stand, providing longer or more frequent breaks, offering assistance with lifting or manual labor, providing light duty or job restructuring, modifying equipment and offering flexible work schedules.

Specifically, as it relates to benefits, these employees must be treated the same as any other persons similar in their ability or inability to work for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs. The law expressly prohibits an employer from discriminating against an individual with respect to compensation or terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin or disability. Therefore, if employers continue benefits or provide leave for other persons with disabilities, they could not treat those with medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth or related conditions differently.

Among other requirements outside of the scope of this article, this law imposes posting and notice requirements effective Sept. 14, 2018. SC employers must post, in an obvious place, information about the right to be free from discrimination for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions in an area accessible to employees. The poster provided by the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission satisfies the poster requirement. In addition, employers must provide written notice of employees’ rights under the Act to existing employees and new employees at the beginning of employment. To satisfy this requirement, employers should update their existing handbook policies or may create and distribute a separate notice.

HB 3865 »
Poster »