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New Jersey Employment Law Blog

The Family and Medical Leave Act: Requesting a leave

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is designed to protect an employee who needs to take a leave of absence to bond with a new child, receive treatment for a personal illness or care for an injured or sick family member.

Once you realize that you qualify for FMLA, there are a few things you need to do. Most importantly, it's critical to follow the necessary steps in requesting a leave. Here are some things you need to know:

  • Provide adequate notice: If you need FMLA leave for a foreseeable absence, such as childbirth, provide your employer with a minimum 30 days' notice. Since this isn't always possible as your condition could change, the law requires you to provide notice as soon as possible.
  • Give reasonable notice for an unforeseeable absence: There are times when you can't plan for an illness or injury. If you need to take an unforeseeable absence, the law only requires that you give your employer reasonable notice.
  • Share sufficient information: It's your job to provide your employer with information to prove that you're taking an FMLA-protected leave. This can include proof of your pregnancy, a doctor note that you're unable to perform your job or that you spent the night in the hospital and require additional treatment.

Your right to receive workers’ compensation

If you suffer any type of on the job injury, there are some key steps you can take to protect your legal rights in New Jersey. Start with the following:

  • Check yourself for injuries
  • Administer first aid
  • Call 911 for help, if necessary
  • Report the accident and your injuries to your employer
  • Discuss your prognosis and treatment plan with your medical team

You may come to find that you're unable to immediately return to work. Since this will take a toll on your finances, it's critical to learn more about the workers' compensation system and your rights to receive benefits.

The way you view sexual harassment may impact your case

If you start a sexual harassment case, the way that you viewed the events as they happened could have a massive impact on the outcome of that case. It's not always simply the facts of what happened that define how the court rules, but how you reacted to them.

In one case, for example, a woman was hired as a police officer. A man who was already on the force was given the task of training her. Their relationship evolved to the point where sexually explicit messages were being sent back and forth.

Three Types Of Benefits For Injured Workers

By Chris Emrich

If you have been injured at work, there are three types of benefits your employer might have to provide: medical treatment, temporary disability, and permanency benefits.

The first and most important benefit available to injured workers is medical treatment for the work-related injury. Treatment must be provided if it is reasonably necessary "to cure and relieve the worker of the effects of the injury and restore the functions" to the injured body part. A unique feature of the New Jersey workers' compensation system is that the employer (or, more accurately, the employer's insurance provider) is responsible for furnishing such treatment. In other states, injured workers are permitted to seek their own treatment. It is vital to speak with an attorney so you do not end up paying for treatment that should have been provided by your employer. Even if your employer is providing treatment, you might need an attorney to fight to make sure that you are getting all the necessary treatment to address your injury. 

Reasons why unemployment benefits might be denied

Unemployment benefits can help those who have lost their jobs pay for the bills and get back on their feet until they acquire a new job. Not every person is entitled to unemployment benefits, which means that you very well could be denied these benefits should you ever lose your job. Today, we will take a look at the reasons why you could be denied unemployment benefits.

Were you fired for justifiable cause?

Journey to Justice: The Two Types of Workers' Compensation Claims in New Jersey

By Chris Emrich

The New Jersey workers' compensation system recognizes two different types of workplace injuries: those caused by single traumatic accidents and those resulting from occupational exposure over a longer period of time.

Traumatic accidents are often easier to identify as work-related. They can come in the form of a slip and fall on the factory floor, a malfunctioning piece of equipment causing injury, or a motor vehicle accident for those employees that drive as part of their job. It is important to remember that New Jersey workers' compensation is a no-fault system. Injured workers do not have to prove negligence on the part of their employer in order to recover benefits. This is one of the key differences between workers' compensation claims and regular personal injury claims. 

Can you be fired for using medical marijuana in New Jersey?

Medical marijuana is legal in the majority of states, including New Jersey. In fact, the New Jersey Senate recently voted overwhelmingly to expand the state's medical marijuana program. Amendments are still being added to the bill, so it hasn't made it to the governor's desk yet.

However, employers have still been known to fire people or decline to hire them because they were found to have the drug in their system or even because they had been approved to use medical marijuana and were listed in a state database.

Sexual harassment can lead to a hostile work environment

Sexual harassment is a serious issue that should never be taken lightly by you, the victim, or your employer. You have a right to work in a safe environment, free from any type of harassment and this includes sexual harassment. There's no reason you should be subjected to unwanted touching, inappropriate comments, explicit pictures or unwanted sexual advances. Sexual harassment can wind up leading to a hostile work environment in New Jersey.

When sexual harassment occurs at work, it is important that you report it immediately. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) says that one in three women face sexual harassment at work and that 70 percent of women have not reported their incidents involving sexual harassment. Reporting sexual harassment is protected under whistleblower laws, which means you cannot be fired or demoted for doing so.

How to negotiate severance when facing termination

Your worst nightmare is coming true: You're losing your job in the near future. While it's never a good thing to hear that you're being terminated, it's also not the end of the world. There are several steps you can take to remain stable during this difficult time of your life.

If you have a severance package written into your employment contract, don't hesitate to discuss this with your HR department. It will give you a better idea of what to expect with respect to receiving compensation, while also making it known that this benefit is expected.

Ask these questions during your exit interview

While not always the case, most companies will conduct an exit interview before an employee moves on. This is designed to give both parties the opportunity to ask questions and ensure that they're clear on what happens next.

It's not always easy to partake in an exit interview, especially if your employment was terminated. However, you don't want to sit back and take whatever comes your way. Instead, ask the following questions:

  • Can you explain the reasons for my termination?
  • Will the feedback I provide during this interview remain anonymous?
  • What are some of the things that I did well during my time with the company?
  • What areas do you suggest I improve on in the future?
  • When should I expect to receive my final paycheck? Do you know the total amount?
  • Am I entitled to receive any form of severance pay?
  • Is there a noncompete agreement in place that will impact my job search?
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