South Carolina law prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating in employment on the basis of disability (SC Stat. Sec. 1-13-30 et seq.). The law covers both public and private employers with 15 or more employees, including employment agencies and labor unions. Elected officials and their appointees are specifically excluded from coverage.
A "disability" is defined as any physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities, a record of an impairment, or being regarded as having an impairment (SC Stat. Sec. 1-13-30). State law requires courts to interpret the definition of disability in a manner consistent with the federal regulations that interpret the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Although the federal ADA has similar provisions as the state law, the ADA has a broader definition of a "regarded as" disability. Under the ADA, an individual is regarded as having a disability if he or she is subjected to an adverse employment action because of an actual or perceived impairment. The impairment does not have to substantially limit a major life activity in order to meet the definition of a regarded as disability.
The courts in South Carolina look to federal law for guidance in the interpretation of the state human rights law. Therefore, the changes in the ADA are likely to affect decisions made by state courts in disability discrimination cases.
The ADA covers private employers with 15 or more employees.
The state statute does not specifically reference human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). However, the law incorporates the federal regulations that interpret the ADA into the state ...