October 21, 2020

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October 20, 2020

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October 19, 2020

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South Carolina Enacts Lactation Support Act

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed into law the “South Carolina Lactation Support Act,” requiring employers to provide employees reasonable unpaid break time, or paid break time or mealtime, each day to express breast milk.

The Act went into effect on June 25, 2020, and, by July 25, 2020, the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission (SCHAC) must post on its website information to educate employers, employees, and employment agencies about their rights under this Act. Employers then will have 30 days to comply with the Act.

Privacy; Undue Hardship

The Act requires that employers make reasonable efforts to provide a room or other location (other than a toilet stall) in close proximity to the work area for an employee to express milk in privacy.

The Act does not require an employer to provide break time if doing so would create an undue hardship on the operations of the employer.

The Act, however, does not require an employer to construct a permanent, dedicated space for expressing milk.

Anti-Discrimination 

In accordance with the language in the South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodation Act, the Lactation Support Act makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee for choosing to express breast milk in the workplace. As such, an aggrieved employee may file a charge of discrimination with SCHAC in the event any adverse action is taken for requesting or using reasonable unpaid break time, or paid break time or mealtime, to express breast milk. However, an employer will be not be held liable if it takes reasonable efforts to comply with the Lactation Support Act.

Comparison with Federal Law

The federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act amended the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to require employers to provide “reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth.” However, the federal law only requires that employers provide breaks to non-exempt employees, as defined by the FLSA, to express milk; exempt employees are not entitled to such breaks. The South Carolina Lactation Support Act fills the gap between exempt and non-exempt employees, providing protection for all employees who seek to express breast milk while at work.

Next Steps for Employers

South Carolina employers should review their breast-feeding policies to ensure compliance with the new law. Employers should consider updating their policies and employee handbooks and train appropriate personnel (such as supervisors and managers) on how to manage requests. Under the Act, if possible, the break time must run concurrently with any break time already provided and the employee must make reasonable efforts to minimize disruption to the employer’s operations.

We will continue to monitor and report on developments related to the Act. Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist employers with questions about the new South Carolina law requirements and provide compliance assistance.

Jackson Lewis P.C. © 2020National Law Review, Volume X, Number 183

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About this Author

Ellison McCoy, Jackson Lewis Law Firm, Litigation Attorney
Principal

Mr. McCoy has represented employers in litigation matters before state and federal administrative agencies and various state and federal trial and appellate courts. During his legal career, Mr. McCoy has handled a wide-variety of employment matters involving claims such as discrimination based on race, sex, national origin, age and disability; sexual and racial harassment; wrongful discharge; retaliation; breach of contract; defamation; covenants not to compete and trade secret violations; and violations of the Family Medical Leave Act. In addition, he has extensive...

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John Ford Connell, Jr. Employment Litigation Attorney Jackson Lewis Greenville, SC
Associate

John Connell is an Associate in the Greenville, South Carolina, office of Jackson Lewis P.C. His practice focuses on employment litigation matters in both state and federal court.

Mr. Connell has handled a variety of cases involving employment discrimination based on age, race, and sex; sexual harassment; wrongful discharge; retaliatory discharge; breach of contract; breach of covenants not to compete; wage and hour disputes; and, unfair trade practices.

Mr. Connell has tried several cases to full verdict and routinely argues motions before South Carolina’s courts. Prior to joining Jackson Lewis, Mr. Connell was employed with a large, regional law firm where he routinely handled business and employment related litigation. Immediately following law school, he was a judicial law clerk for The Honorable Roger L. Couch of the South Carolina Circuit Court.

While in college, Mr. Connell worked for the United States Department of State at the U.S. Consulate in Leipzig, Germany. He continues to maintain proficiency in German.

Practices

  • General Employment Litigation

Services

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Industries

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