COLUMBIA - Employers would be prohibited from disciplining, suspending or firing employees who report child abuse or neglect under a bill that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

The bill, H. 3124, received unanimous support and will move to the full Senate for a vote.

Under the bill, an employer could be forced to reinstate an employee or pay back pay if they discipline or fire someone for alleging child abuse.

The committee also moved along the "South Carolina Military Service Integrity and Preservation Act," which criminalizes those who falsely claim military service or awards in order to gain some benefit, such as U.S. Veterans Affairs medical benefits.

Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, also asked senators to add politicians to those who could face prosecution if they misrepresent their military service during a campaign.

The committee agreed and added it to the bill, which will move to the full Senate for a vote.

The committee spent the bulk of the hearing discussing a wide-ranging child abuse-related bill, H.3024. The bill criminalizes the failure to report child abuse for nearly anyone who has contact with children, including scout leaders and volunteer coaches, and also opens them up to huge penalties if sued. But senators said that the measure could entrap those who are trying to do the right thing. They asked another Senate panel to study it further.

Reach Jeremy Borden at 708-5837.