While pregnancy is not a disability in its purest form, it does often change a worker’s ability to perform their job. Discriminating against pregnant women is unlawful in South Carolina. If an employee is pregnant while working, their employer may not take any negative employment action against them based on pregnancy. However, it can be difficult to establish that discriminatory conduct has actually happened because of pregnancy. An attorney can help you determine how best to proceed.
No Disparate Treatment
The federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act (PDA) was passed in 1978, as an addendum to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It covers every employer with 15 or more workers, and it imposes regulations at the federal level that establish pregnancy as a temporary disability. It also considers pregnancy discrimination as a form of sex-based discrimination (though the question of transgender people being able to become pregnant is not, as of this writing, discussed therein).
Pregnant people (or people with pregnancy-related conditions, such as miscarriage) must be treated in the same manner as any other potentially disabled worker. The crux of what this means is that since one is not permitted to terminate or demote a disabled worker based on their disability, the same is true for pregnant workers. This is true both under the federal PDA and South Carolina’s recently passed Pregnancy Accommodations Act (PAA).
In addition to the specific protections against ill-treatment under the Act, you have the ability to request accommodations from your employer if you are having difficulty performing your job as a result of pregnancy or a related condition. The same types of accommodations should be available to you that would be available to anyone with a similarly disabling condition. In other words, anything “reasonable” is fair game—for example, more frequent bathroom breaks, lifting restrictions, or even a temporary transfer to a less stressful position.
If your employer refuses to provide reasonable accommodations to you, and cannot establish that doing so would be an undue burden for them, you may have a claim either under the PAA or the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), depending on the specific nature of your case (some pregnancy-related conditions are considered disabilities under the ADA). You must usually file a claim within 180 days of the incident, though it may be extended if you choose to file under the Human Affairs Law specifically.
Contact A South Carolina Employment Law Attorney
Discriminating against pregnant women is unlawful in South Carolina. Pregnancy should be a joyful time for you and your family—you should not have to worry about your job or your livelihood. If you believe that you have experienced discrimination based on your pregnancy, former pregnancy, or related condition, contacting a South Carolina employment discrimination lawyer is a good idea. Attorney A. Christopher Potts has been practicing this type of law for many years, and the firm of Hitchcock & Potts is ready to assist you with your case. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.