Division on Civil Rights Issues New Guidance to Clarify Job Protections Under State Family Leave Law

For Immediate Release: February 20, 2024

Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division on Civil Rights
– Sundeep Iyer, Director

For Further Information:

Media Inquiries-
Tara Oliver


TRENTON – Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division on Civil Rights (DCR) announced today that DCR has created a comprehensive guidance document to clarify the protections afforded by the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA). The new resource announced today is the first comprehensive source of accessible information about the NJFLA and its relationship with other state and federal laws, thus empowering employees to make informed choices about taking family leave.

Enacted in 1989, the NJFLA offers job protection to eligible employees of covered employers when taking family leave in specific circumstances. The law addresses the most pervasive concerns New Jersey employees have about taking leave from work: the fear of losing employment, seniority, or access to job advancement.

According to a survey conducted by the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, employees – particularly those earning less than $100,000 annually – report reluctance to take leave, reflecting confusion about the law. The guide issued today seeks to address that confusion by providing employees and employers with clear and comprehensive information about the law’s protections.

The guide also aims to assist employers in complying with their obligations under the NJFLA.  An employer’s failure to comply with the NJFLA can result in enforcement action by DCR, culminating in the employer being required to pay damages, penalties, and attorney’s fees.  In the last year, DCR has recovered over $275,000 in payments to employees, penalties, and attorney’s fees in cases involving alleged violations of the NJFLA.

“In New Jersey, we offer strong job protections to eligible employees because we believe that no one should lose their job if they take time off to bond with the new addition to the family or to care for a loved one,” said Attorney General Platkin. “I am proud of the work the Division on Civil Rights has done to make sure both employers and employees know the law and how to apply it. While the New Jersey Family Leave Act has often been misunderstood – leading to denial of leave, termination of employment, and other violations of the law – with this new resource, we expect better outcomes for workers going forward.”

“Too often, New Jerseyans fear that they may lose their jobs if they take leave to care for a child or a family member.  That’s why the protections provided by the New Jersey Family Leave Act are so critical,” said Sundeep Iyer, Director of the Division on Civil Rights. “The guidance launched today will empower employees to make the best choice for themselves and their families, and it will also help employers comply with the law. We will continue our work to educate New Jerseyans about the protections this landmark law affords – and to enforce those protections where the law has been violated.”

The resource announced today will provide additional clarity to employers about how they can comply with the NJFLA.  In recent years, some employers have not complied with the NJFLA, leading to denials of leave, employment termination, and other violations of the law.  Failing to comply with the NJFLA can be costly for employers. For example, in 2023, DCR finalized consent decrees under which the discount retailer Gabriel Brothers, known for its Gabe’s stores, agreed to pay $113,500 in total relief and Pine Belt Management LLC, a car dealership located in Lakewood, agreed to pay $105,000 in total relief to resolve complaints alleging that a former employee was terminated for requesting NJFLA-protected leave.

The NJFLA is sometimes confused with the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and two other New Jersey programs related to cash benefits for employees who need time off to care for themselves or loved ones: the New Jersey Family Leave Insurance (NJFLI) and the State’s Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) program. The new resource sheds lights on the differences among these related laws and how time off under them may overlap at times.

Some of the top questions DCR receives about the NJFLA from employees and employers include:

  • Can an employer deny job-protected leave under the NJFLA to an eligible employee?
  • Do employees have to use their accrued paid leave (vacation, sick, administrative, and other paid time off) while taking job-protected leave under the NJFLA?
  • How is the 24-month period in which an eligible employee can take 12 weeks of job-protected leave calculated?
  • When can an employee take job-protected NJFLA leave related to pregnancy or recovery from childbirth?
  • Does an employee’s family leave simultaneously count against the leave time to which they are entitled under the NJFLA and the federal FMLA?

The resource announced today answers all of these questions and many more.

The resource was developed by Kaley Lentini, Senior Advisor for Policy; Lubna Qazi-Chowdhry, Legal Specialist; and Dave Williams, Web and Graphic Designer, under the leadership of Trish Perlmutter, Associate Director for Policy, Outreach, and Community Relations, and Aarin Williams, Chief Advisor to the Director.


DCR is the state agency responsible for preventing and eliminating discrimination and bias-based harassment in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation (e.g., places open to the public like schools, businesses, hospitals, etc.) by enforcing the New Jersey Family Leave Act (NJFLA), the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (LAD), and the Fair Chance in Housing Act (FCHA).


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