August 15, 2022

Volume XII, Number 227

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August 12, 2022

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South Carolina Abortion Bill Contains Harsh Criminal Penalties for Interfering with Whistleblowers

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, state legislatures across the country have accelerated their discussion of new laws either restricting or further protecting access to abortions.  A state senate bill in South Carolina, S. 1373 currently pending in the Senate Committee on Medical Affairs, would not only ban almost all abortions in that state, but would also afford novel whistleblower protections. Specifically, S. 1373 imposes criminal penalties, punishable by imprisonment for ten years, for persons who “take any action to impede a whistleblower from communicating about a violation of this article with the Attorney General, a solicitor, or any other person authorized to bring an action in violation of this article.”

The legislation also provides an extremely broad definition of what constitutes “actions impeding a whistleblower.” In addition to prohibiting “discharging, demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, or in any other manner discriminating against a whistleblower in the terms and conditions of employment,” S. 1373 criminalizes “enforcing, or threatening to enforce, a confidentiality agreement or a pre-dispute arbitration agreement with respect to [whistleblower] communications.” The legislation provides no guidance regarding whether merely promulgating pre-dispute arbitration agreements covering whistleblower claims would constitute threatening to enforce a pre-dispute arbitration agreement.

Employers both inside and outside South Carolina should follow this legislation with caution. In the wake of Dobbs, state legislators in both red and blue states have engaged in a pattern of one-upmanship with respect to stronger protections or stricter prohibitions on abortions.  We can expect other states to emulate South Carolina by including strong whistleblower protections, including criminal penalties, in their own laws regulating or prohibiting abortions.

©2022 Epstein Becker & Green, P.C. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 199
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About this Author

Greg Keating Employment Litigator Epstein Becker Green Law Firm
Member

Greg Keating’s top-notch skills in and out of the courtroom have won him the respect of employers. He is both a trusted advisor on a panoply of employment issues and a much sought-after whistleblower defense attorney. Greg also defends employers in a wide range of other employment disputes. He draws on more than 25 years of experience as a litigator and employment lawyer to help clients successively resolve their workplace issues.

Trusted Advisor

Employers seek Greg’s daily advice on every type of employment issue. He also regularly advises a substantial...

617-603-1080
Daniel J. Green, labor, employment, attorney, Epstein Becker, law firm
Associate

DANIEL J. GREEN is an Associate in the Labor and Employment practice, in the New York office of Epstein Becker Green.

Mr. Green:

  • Defends clients in EEOC investigations

  • Defends clients against unfair labor practice complaints involving, among other things, ambiguities in collective bargaining agreements

  • Opposes the class certification of plaintiffs in actions alleging misclassification as independent contractors

    ...
212-351-3752
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