By Andy Satterfield, Jackson Lewis, P.C.
The South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act became effective May 17, 2018, with a deadline of September 14, 2018 for compliance with the Act’s notice provisions. The Act requires employers with at least 15 employees to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions (including lactation).
Reasonable Accommodations The Act gives specific examples of reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, including:
- Providing a private place, other than a bathroom stall, for the purpose of expressing milk (although the employer is not required to construct a permanent, dedicated space for expressing milk);
- Modifying food or drink policies;
- Providing seating or allowing the employee to sit more frequently if the job requires the employee to stand;
- Providing more frequent or longer break periods;
- 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; and
- Modifying work schedules. However, the Act does not require an employer to do the following (unless the employer does or would do so for other employees):
- Hire new employees that the employer would not have hired otherwise;
- Discharge an employee, transfer another employee with more seniority, or promote another employee who is not qualified to perform the new job;
- Create a new position, including light-duty position for the employee, unless a light-duty position would be provided for another equivalent employee; or
- Compensate an employee for more frequent or longer break periods, unless the employee uses a break period that would otherwise be compensated.
Unlawful Employment Practices Employers may not punish or refuse to hire employees for requesting or using a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or other
related medical conditions. It is also unlawful to require an employee to take leave under any leave law if another reasonable accommodation can be provided.
In addition, the Act makes it unlawful for the employer to require an applicant or an employee affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions to accept an accommodation if the individual does not have a known limitation related to the pregnancy, or if the accommodation is unnecessary for the applicant or employee to perform the essential duties of her job.
Notice and Posting Requirements Employers must provide written notice to existing employees and all new employees, at the commencement of their employment, of the right to be free from discrimination for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions. Employers may comply with the notice obligation by amending existing Equal Employment Opportunity policies to include rights for pregnancy, childbirth, or other related medical conditions. Alternatively, employers may choose to draft a standalone notice or policy.
In addition, employers must conspicuously post notice at each place of business in an area accessible to employees, such as where the employer posts other state and federal workplace posters. The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission has created a new South Carolina Employment Discrimination Poster to comply with this posting obligation.
Next Steps South Carolina employers should:
- Provide notices as required to all new and existing employees;
- Post the updated South Carolina Employment Discrimination Poster; and
- Train supervisors and managers on how to spot pregnancy accommodation requests and enlist Human Resources’ assistance in the process.
Jackson Lewis is a law firm providing premier workplace law representation to management. Andy Satterfield is a Greenville native and Principal of Jackson Lewis’s Greenville office.
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