A lawsuit has been filed against South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster over his ordinance urging all remaining government employees still working from home to return to work full-time. The lawsuit, filed April 5, lists College of Charleston employee Deborah Mihal and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of SC as the plaintiffs, while McMaster and Marcia Adams, executive director of the SC Department of Administration, were listed as defendants. It concerns McMaster’s order on March 5, which advised state agencies to “speed up the immediate” return of non-essential government employees to personal work under the lawsuit. “This was a complete reversal of the governor̵
A lawsuit has been filed against the South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster over his executive order urging all remaining government employees still working from home to return to work on a full-time basis.
The lawsuit, filed April 5, lists College of Charleston employee Deborah Mihal and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of SC as the plaintiffs, while McMaster and Marcia Adams, executive director of the SC Department of Administration, were listed as defendants.
It concerns McMaster’s order on March 5, which advised government agencies to “immediately speed up” the return of non-essential government employees to personal work, according to the lawsuit.
“This was a complete reversal of the governor’s order that non-essential government employees work externally, which they had done effectively for a year,” the court documents state.
The lawsuit says Mihal is the director of disability services for the College of Charleston and has been working externally for the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to court documents, she has been able to carry out her responsibilities while serving as the primary caretaker for her 9-year-old son, who is enrolled in distance learning.
According to the trial, the order that she must return to work before April 5 has left Mihal without options for childcare or “usable accommodation”. In court documents, it appears that her husband works full-time out of the house five days a week, and she has not received a response from her outreach to the principal at her son’s school to see if she can switch him to personal learning.
“In addition, both the return to the workplace and all her possible childcare options will increase her and her family’s exposure to COVID-19,” the lawsuit states. “Mihal planned her vaccination as soon as she could, and even though she has an appointment, she will not be fully vaccinated until she has to return to work.”
According to the lawsuit, the College of Charleston has not provided her with any solutions, as administrators have suspended the approval of new teleworking agreements.
“In addition, several members of the ACLU in SC are also unable to find adequate childcare at such short notice,” the lawsuit states.
According to court documents, other members of the ACLU of SC are at risk by the order that they return to the office because they are breastfeeding or have chronic health conditions.
“There is simply no need or business necessity by requiring non-essential employees to return to the workplace in person at this time. Non-significant government employees have worked externally successfully for over a year, ”the lawsuit states.
Complainants ask the court to prevent the use of any policy or procedure that requires non-essential employees to return to the workplace personally “incompatible with the responsibility to protect the security, safety or welfare of the state.”
Brian Symmes, communications director for the governor’s office, released the following statement:
“South Carolina people across the state have been working personally over the past year and they have been able to do it safely. The Department of Administration has done an incredible job with agency managers to bring government employees back to the office in a safe way, giving flexibility to make accommodations when needed and giving agencies time to implement workplace safety measures.
“It is ridiculous to think that it is in any way discriminatory to require employees to go to work. Employees were given weeks to plan the necessary plans for a variety of contingencies, including child care, and with 94% of South Carolina’s child care facilities open to business, there should be no problem for anyone actively working to arrange these arrangements. ”