New Jersey Law Allows Victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Crimes to Take Unpaid Work Leave

A New Jersey law that is scheduled to take effect on October 1 will require public and private employers with 25 or more employees to grant job-protected leave to the victims and certain family members of sexually violent and domestic violence offenses. The New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (SAFE Act) provides workers with up to 20 days of unpaid leave in any 12-month period. Leave may be taken in order to seek medical treatment, obtain assistance from a victim services organization, seek psychological counseling, speak with an attorney, attend or prepare for court proceedings, and take specified safety actions such as relocating.

In order to utilize the provisions of the Act, an employee must have worked at least 1,000 hours during the preceding year and all leave must be used in the 12 months immediately following the reported act of violence. Where possible, workers who take leave pursuant to the SAFE Act are required to provide their employer with advance written notice. All SAFE Act leave must be taken in increments of one day and any leave must be taken concurrently with leave requested under the New Jersey Family Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act where applicable. Additionally, a New Jersey employer may request documentation related to the act of violence. Such documentation must be maintained in a confidential manner and may not be disseminated without the express written permission of the employee.

The provisions of the SAFE Act prohibit an employer from harassing, terminating, discriminating against, or engaging in retaliation against a worker who takes leave under the new law. If an employer violates this requirement, a worker may file a civil lawsuit against the company within one year of the alleged incident. An employee who suffered discrimination or retaliation for taking leave pursuant to the SAFE Act may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages and benefits, emotional distress, attorney’s fees, and other damages. In addition, an employer who violates the Act may be subject to a significant civil fine.

Discrimination based on becoming the unfortunate victim of a violent crime, assisting your family member, or maintaining your own health is illegal and should be investigated. Because workplace discrimination and leave laws can be complicated, you should discuss your rights with an experienced New Jersey employment law attorney.

If you feel your employer has discriminated against you based on leave taken for family issues in New York or New Jersey, please call the Resnick Law Group, P.C. at 973-781-1204 or (646) 867-7997. The knowledgeable employment law attorneys at the Resnick Law Group represent current and former workers in both New Jersey and New York regarding matters that involve unlawful workplace discrimination. To discuss your situation with a caring advocate, do not hesitate to contact the Resnick Law Group through our website today.

More Blog Posts:

Arbitrator Recommends $4.5 Million Award for Sexual Harassment of Former Long Branch School District Worker, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, September 19, 2013
High Profile Lawsuit Demonstrates Why New Jersey Employers Should Always Protect Workers From Unlawful Sex Harassment, The New Jersey Employment Law Firm Blog, September 19, 2013
Additional Resources:

New Jersey SAFE Act, New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development Notice dated September 2013


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