Comparison: State vs. Federal
The South Carolina Human Affairs Law prohibits employment practices that discriminate on the basis of disability (SC Code Sec. 1-13-10 et seq.). The law covers private employers with 15 or more employees.
Association discrimination. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a qualified individual because of the individual's known association or relationship with a person with a known disability (SC Code Sec. 1-13-80(D)). For example, an employer may not discriminate against an employee because the employee volunteers at an AIDS clinic, or against a job applicant who has a spouse or family member with a disability.
The definition of "disability" is the same under the Human Affairs Law and under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In addition, state law requires the definition to be interpreted in a manner consistent with federal regulations issued pursuant to the ADA, as amended (SC Code Sec. 1-13-30(N ). Under the law, a disability is:
- A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities
- A record of having such an impairment
- Being regarded as having an impairment
Exception. The term "disability" does not include current illegal drug use.
"Regarded as" having a disability. Amendments to the ADA changed the law's definition of a regarded as disability. Under the amended ADA, a person is regarded as having an ADA disability if he or she is subjected to an adverse employment action (e.g., demotion or firing) 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.
Because state law requires courts to interpret state disability discrimination law consistently with the ADA, the changes in the ADA will directly affect decisions made by state courts in disability discrimination cases..