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Governor Signs New Jersey Domestic Violence Victim Leave Act

On July 17, Governor Chris Christie signed into law S2177, the "New Jersey Security and Financial Empowerment Act."

The Act creates new legal rights for the victims of domestic violence, and also creates new obligations for employers.

The Act covers both public and private employers with at least 25 employees and becomes effective October 1, 2013.

An eligible employee (one who has been employed for at least 1000 hours over 12 months) is entitled to 20 days of unpaid leave in the 12 month period following an incident of domestic violence in the following cases:

  • The employee is a victim of domestic abuse or a sexually violent offense; or
  • The employee's child, parent, spouse, domestic partner, or civil union partner is such a victim.

The leave may be taken for the following reasons:

  • To seek medical attention for, or recover from, physical or emotional injuries due to the domestic or sexual assault;
  • To obtain services from a victim services organization;
  • To obtain counseling; and
  • To seek legal assistance and prepare for and attend civil or criminal legal proceedings.

An employee may choose to use, or the employer may require the employee to use, the employee's paid vacation time, personal leave, or sick leave while taking leave under the new Act.

Employees must provide employers of advance written notice of their intent to take leave under the Act. Employers may require documentation to support the leave request. This documentation may include:

  • A domestic violence restraining order;
  • A letter from a county or municipal prosecutor;
  • Documentation of the conviction of a person for the domestic violence or sexual violence offense;
  • Medical documentation of the domestic violence or sexual violence offense;
  • Certification from a certified Domestic Violence Specialist or the director of a designated domestic violence agency or Rape Crisis Center; or
  • Other documentation provided by a social worker, clergy member, shelter worker, or other professional who has helped the employee.

Such documentation must be kept private by the employer.

Employers are prohibited from discriminating or retaliating against employees who exercise their rights under the Act, and may be fined if they do so.

If you or a family member has been the victim of domestic violence, or if you need help with any other family law matter, contact an experienced family law attorney at the New Jersey Law Offices of Greenberg, Walden & Grossman, LLC.

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