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Case

Earned Sick Leave Retaliation

Did you know that it is against the law for an employer to retaliate against employees because they requested or took time off from work under the Earned Sick Leave Act? N.J.S.A. 34:11D-4. New Jersey’s Earned Sick Leave Act attorneys at Lenzo & Reis are skilled in obtaining compensation for employees who are retaliated against including those retaliated against for requesting or taking time off under the Earned Sick Leave Act and/or for exercising any other rights under that law.

What Does the Anti-Retaliation Provision of the Earned Sick Leave Act Prohibit?

The Act makes it unlawful for New Jersey employers to take “retaliatory personnel actions” or otherwise discriminate against employees who take or request accrued time off under the Earned Sick Leave Act or otherwise exercise rights under the law. Specifically, the Earned Sick Leave Act makes clear that employees are protected from retaliation for

  • taking or requesting earned sick leave under the Earned Sick Leave Act or their employers’ own policies,
  • filing any complaint with the Commissioner of Labor concerning a violation of the law, or
  • advising any other person of their rights under the Earned Sick Leave Act.

Unlawful Retaliation, or a “retaliatory personnel action”, under the Earned Sick Leave Act is broad and includes

  • the denial of employees’ rights under this Act,
  • firings,
  • suspensions,
  • demotions,
  • reduced work hours,
  • threats to report, or actual reporting of, employees’ immigrant status or the status of their family, or
  • any other negative actions taken against employees.

N.J.S.A. 34:11D-1.

Employers are presumed to have violated the Earned Sick Leave Act if take an adverse action against an employee within 90 days of that employee filing a complaint with the Department of Labor or court concerning a violation of the Act, advising any other person of the employer’s violation of the law, cooperating in any investigation or prosecution of violations of the law, opposing any action that is unlawful under the law, or advising any other person of their rights under the law. N.J.S.A. 34:11D-4. That presumption can be overcome if the employer establishes a legitimate reason for the action it took.

Am I Still Protected From Retaliation If I Believed That My Employer Was Violating the Law But I Was Wrong?

You are protected from retaliation if you, in good faith, took any of the actions described in the paragraph above. That means that you don’t have to be right about the existence of a violation of the law as long as you have a good faith belief that the employer violated the Act.

If Successful in Proving an Earned Sick Leave Act Retaliation Case, What Is My Case Worth?

If successful in pursuing an Earned Sick Leave Act retaliation case, what you may be entitled to depends on how you were harmed and what you want. For example, a qualified and experienced Earned Sick Leave Act attorney could get you reinstated to a job from which you were fired if that is something you would be willing to do. The Attorneys at Lenzo & Reis who regularly handle Earned Sick Leave Act cases understand that many employees do not want to return to workplaces from which they were fired. Returning to such a job is, however, sometimes the best option for an employee who is being paid well and likely will not receive similar pay at any other employer. If you are adamant that you do not want to return to work, the Earned Sick Leave Act lawyers of Lenzo & Reis could get you compensated for all wages you lost as a result of your firing or other discriminatory action to which you were subjected as well as additional compensation of up to 200% of your lost wages. N.J.S.A. 34:11-56a24(b). Recovery of lost wages and the additional potential compensation of up to 200% can be substantial when reinstatement is not possible or the employee has already found another job.

In the alternative, employees retaliated against in violation of the Earned Sick Leave Act may also be able to bring a whistleblower claim or Pierce claim. In New Jersey, the attorneys at Lenzo & Reis have successfully represented employees in whistleblower claims and, as a result, recovered on their behalf lost back wages, future lost wages, money for the emotional distress they suffered as a result of the retaliation, possibly even punitive damages, which are intended to punish employers for wrongdoing, and recover their attorneys’ fees and costs. While the possibly recovery for a Pierce claim violation is more limited, it can still be significant.

What Should I Do If I Was Fired or Otherwise Retaliated Against for Earned Sick Leave?

The Earned Sick Leave attorneys at Lenzo & Reis understand that no one should be retaliated against for taking time off to which they are entitled. Everyone deserves and is entitled to time off to care for themselves or family members when sick and under certain other legal protected circumstances. If you have been retaliated for simply requesting or taking leave to which you are entitled, do not hesitate to contact the Earned Sick Leave lawyers at Lenzo & Reis via telephone (973) 845-9922 or e-mail by clicking here. We have helped thousands of New Jersey employees who were retaliated against recover millions of dollars. We can help you, too!

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