New Jersey Family Leave Act
The New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA) is a close cousin of the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The New Jersey FLA is one of those rare situations where the New Jersey statute that does essentially the same thing as a federal statute doesn’t offer quite the same remedies.
While you can certainly read about the FMLA elsewhere on our site, the important distinction to understand between the NJFLA and the FMLA is that the FMLA allows one to take leave for one’s own serious health condition, while the NJFLA does not.
The NJFLA allows one to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to attend to the birth or adoption of a child, or the death or serious illness of a close family member. While an employer may require documentation concerning these issues, they cannot require unnecessarily invasive or harassing documentation, nor can they harass or intimidate you while you take the leave by asking you for the same information over and over, by asking you when you are going to return, or by threatening or intimidating you that you’re causing the employer distress while taking your leave.
While the employer must return you to a reasonably comparable job, if not the same job at the same pay, if that job is no longer available because your leave was such that the employer had to make changes, the employer must return you to a comparable job at approximately the same rate of pay, responsibilities and benefits. If an employer improperly refuses to do this or claims falsely that it cannot, then you have a retaliation action that you can file under the FLA. You have the right to obtain compensatory damages for pain and suffering, punitive damages, reinstatement, back pay, front pay and attorneys’ fees in such an action.
An employer who is covered under the FLA (50 employees at the work location or within a particular geographic range) must give notice to covered workers who ask about leave for reasons the Act protects (one who has worked at least a year and who has accumulated 1000 hours during that year), even if an employee doesn’t know that he or she has rights under the Act. If you go to your employer and explain to them about the impending birth or adoption of a child, or the illness of a family member, and you and your employer are covered, but you don’t know to ask about the FLA, your employer is obligated to offer you leave under the FLA. If they refuse to do this and pretend that they have no obligation to talk about it with you just because you didn’t mention it yourself, then they’ve committed an act violative of the FLA and you have the right to file a retaliation action.
The Mount Laurel employment civil rights lawyers of Costello & Mains, LLC, are well-versed in NJFLA law, and we know how to protect your rights. Please call us today at 866-944-3371 (toll-free) or contact us online to arrange a confidential consultation.