Having a child should be a momentously happy experience. However, if your employer is not willing to understand and accept the changes in your life when pregnancy happens, it can be troublesome. Pregnancy is considered a temporary disability in South Carolina, and it is very possible for an employer to discriminate against a pregnant person without being overt. If you suspect you have experienced this type of mistreatment, it is a good idea to consult an attorney. Read on to learn about filing a claim of pregnancy discrimination.
Both Federal & State Law Exist
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed in 1978, amending Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, to bar discrimination against pregnant people based on their condition. The law holds that any kind of discrimination based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions (for example, illnesses or conditions that one might contract during pregnancy, such as preeclampsia) constitutes unlawful sex discrimination. Note that the relevant law calls it sex discrimination, rather than gender discrimination—sex and gender are different and would cover different people.
South Carolina had no specific law against pregnancy discrimination on the books until 2018, when Gov. Henry McMaster signed the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act (SCPAA) into law. The state law requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees or potential hires who might need them based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions. The standard to establish discrimination is roughly the same as the federal law, but the SCPAA deals specifically with reasonable accommodations, rather than the broader spectrum of discriminatory behavior.
Determine Where To File
If you believe that you have been discriminated against in the sense of being denied reasonable accommodations after pregnancy, you may want to file a complaint with the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC), instead of filing under federal law. The Human Affairs Commission may help you work with your employer to arrive at a reasonable outcome, only resorting to potential litigation if mediation attempts fail.
If, by comparison, you suspect you have been discriminated against in a more active manner—for example, being forced to perform duties that are against medical advice, or being demoted due to your pregnancy—you may choose instead to file a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), citing the PDA. Pregnancy must be treated in the same manner as any other disability. Accommodations must be made if necessary, and any benefits granted to other disabled employees must be granted to pregnant employees as well.
Contact A South Carolina Employment Discrimination Attorney
We hope you’ve learned what you need to know about learn about filing a claim of pregnancy discrimination. Pregnant employees—just like disabled employees—deserve every opportunity to continue to contribute to their workplace, if at all possible. If you believe that your employer is punishing or discriminating against you because of your pregnancy (or any related condition), contacting a South Carolina employment discrimination attorney from the firm of Hitchcock & Potts can help you understand your potential options. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has been handling these cases for many years, and will work hard to give yours the best chance at a positive outcome. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.