Know Your Rights Regarding A Leave of Absence
The federal Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) applies to employers with more than 50 employees. The FMLA entitles eligible employees who have worked for a company for at least a year to be allowed to return to their jobs after taking leave of up to 12 weeks in one year, to deal with eligible family or medical needs. The FMLA provides many workers up to a 12-week unpaid leave for certain important purposes such as:
- Your inability to work because of your own serious medical condition
- Your need to care for a spouse, child, or parent with a serious medical condition
- Birth and care of your child
- Adoption of a child into your family
At the end of your FMLA leave, your employer must return you to the same job you held prior to taking leave, or to an equivalent position with the same benefits and pay. If your employer failed to return you to work or terminated you shortly following your return from medical leave, you may have a claim for damages.
Contact Ms. Trabosh if you believe your employer has interfered with your right to FMLA leave and/or retaliated against you for taking FMLA leave.
All New Jersey employers with 50 or more employees anywhere worldwide must comply with the New Jersey Family Leave Act (“NJFLA”). The NJFLA requires employers to provide up to 12 weeks of leave during any 24-month period for the care of an ill family member (spouse, parent, spouse’s parent, or child) or for the birth or adoption of a child. The NJFLA does not cover an employee who needs time off for his/her own medical condition.
To be eligible for family leave, an employee must have been working for the employer for at least 12 months, and must have worked a minimum of 1,000 hours during the previous 12-month period. Similar to the FMLA, your employer must return you to the same job you held prior to taking leave, or to an equivalent position with the same benefits and pay.
Contact Ms. Trabosh if you believe your employer has interfered with your right to NJFLA leave and/or retaliated against you for taking NJFLA leave.
The Act applies to all New Jersey businesses despite their size or number of employees. The Act requires employers to provide one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours in a benefit year. The leave may be used:
- to care for the employee’s own mental or physical illness, injury or other condition;
- to care for a family member’s mental or physical illness , injury or other condition;
- to obtain legal services, treatment and other counseling in connection with the employee or the employee’s family member being a victim of domestic violence;
- to attend school-related conferences and events regarding your child’s education; or
- to care for a child whose school has closed due to a public health emergency or to cover time when your workplace has been closed due to a public health emergency.
Contact Ms. Trabosh if your employer has refused to offer you paid sick leave or has retaliated against you for using your accrued sick leave.
The New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act (“NJ SAFE Act”), provides certain employees with up to 20 days of unpaid leave to address circumstances resulting from domestic or sexual violence. To be eligible, the employee must have worked at least 1,000 hours during the 12 months immediately preceding the need for leave. Further, the employee must work for an employer who employs at least 25 employees. The NJ SAFE Act also permits an employee to take leave to tend to a child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner who has been the victim of domestic or sexual violence.
Under the Act, an employee can take leave to:
- Seek medical attention for, or recover from, physical or psychological injuries caused by the incident;
- Obtain services from a victim services organization;
- Obtain counseling;
- Participate in safety planning, temporarily or permanently relocating, or taking other actions to increase the victim’s safety and/or ensure their economic security;
- Seek legal assistance or other remedies to ensure the health and safety of the victim; or
- Attend, participate in, or prepare for a criminal or civil proceeding relating to an incident of domestic or sexual violence.
The NJ SAFE Act prohibits an employer from discharging, harassing, discriminating, or retaliating against the employee on the basis that the employee took or requested any leave that the employee was entitled to under the SAFE Act
Contact Ms. Trabosh if your employer has violated your rights under the NJ SAFE Act.
If you are not entitled to leave under the FMLA or NJFLA, either due to the size of your employer or the length of your employment, you still may be entitled to a medical leave of absence under the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (“NJLAD”). Under the NJLAD, a temporary leave of absence can, under some circumstances, be a reasonable accommodation. The NJLAD requires an employer to reasonably accommodate an employee's disability. To determine if a leave of absence is an appropriate accommodation, the employer must engage in an interactive process with the employee to determine whether the requested accommodation, medical leave, can be given without causing undue hardship to the employer. Once a disabled employee has requested an accomodation, it is the employer who must make the reasonable effort to determine the appropriate accommodation.
Contact Ms. Trabosh if your employer has denied your request for a medical leave of absence.