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South Carolina Delivers New Pregnancy Accommodations Law


South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster recently signed the Pregnancy Accommodations Act into effect, ushering in one of the most significant pieces of workplace legislation in recent history. The new law has the stated purpose of combatting pregnancy discrimination, promoting public health, and ensuring full and equal participation in the workforce by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions.

The Act, signed on May 17, imposes immediate notice obligations on employers with regard to their new employees. It also provides for a 120-day window—or until September 14, 2018—to implement new notice requirements for existing employees. What do South Carolina employers need to know about this new law?

Required Postings And Notice

First and foremost, the Act requires all employers to provide written notice to all employees of their “right to be free from discrimination for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.” This notice must be provided to all new employees at the beginning of employment. For existing employees, you must advise of this right via a conspicuous posting within 120 days of the Act’s passage, or by September 14. 

Reasonable Accommodations

The Act also requires you to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for pregnancy and related medical conditions, including lactation. The Act provides that you may be required to provide accommodations of the same type and manner as you would for other employees or classes of employees requiring reasonable accommodation for non-pregnancy related conditions. The Act also specifically lists examples of accommodations that you might be required to provide, including:

New Unlawful Employment Practices

Finally, the Act provides that the term “because of sex” or “on the basis of sex” for purposes of unlawful employment practices shall also mean “because of or on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including but not limited to, lactation.” The Act further provides that women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions must be treated the same for all employment-related purposes, including receipt of benefits under fringe benefit programs. 

Therefore, once the law goes into effect, it will be an unlawful employment practice for an employer to:

Implementation And Next Steps

The Act provides for the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) to promulgate regulations for this Act. At this time, neither the legislature nor the SCHAC has provided guidance on the Act, or released a suggested poster which would be considered as being compliant with the Act. If and when any such guidance is released, we will provide updates to affected employers.

In the meantime, you should use the next several months to prepare for final implementation of the law. Some suggested steps include the following:

For more information about how this new law will affect your workplace, contact any attorney in our Columbia office at 803.255.0000, or your regular Fisher Phillips attorney.

This Legal Alert provides an overview of a specific new state law. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice for any particular fact situation.


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