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Workers’ Rights and Protections


The following is a list of rights and protections that workers enjoy in the State of New Jersey. If you believe your rights have been violated, you can apply for help from the LSNJLAWSM Hotline online at, or by phone at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529).

Fair Employment Practices

Laws Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation

The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD) affords certain rights to employees in the workforce. This law prohibits prejudice, discrimination, different kinds of unlawful harassment, and retaliation in the workplace. The following is a list of protected classes. Employees in these classes cannot be treated differently or picked on because of prejudice. In other words, it is illegal to discriminate or treat an employee differently based on the following: race, creed, color, national origin, nationality, ancestry, age, sex/gender (including pregnancy), marital status, civil union status, domestic partnership status, familial status, religion, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, atypical hereditary cellular or blood trait, genetic information, liability for service in the Armed Forces of the United States, or disability.

Unlike the Title VII federal statute, which also provides protection against discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, the NJLAD applies to all public and private employers, regardless of their size.

How exactly is a worker protected?

The law protects workers from being treated less favorably because others in the workplace, including supervisors, harbor a prejudice against the person’s protected trait and act upon that prejudice. That is what we mean when we use the words “unlawful discrimination.”

Harassment due to a protected class is also illegal. Unlawful harassment is when a worker is picked on, called derogatory or demeaning things, or subjected to hostility in actions or words because of prejudice to a person’s protected class (race, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnic background, or any other protected category listed above).

Workers in New Jersey are also protected from unwanted interest and attention from supervisors and co-workers of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment generally is defined as unwanted and unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, non-verbal, and physical contact or touching of a sexual nature.

Pregnancy Accommodation

New Jersey’s Pregnant Worker’s Fairness Act requires employers to protect pregnant workers from discrimination, make reasonable accommodations for them, and fully protect them from retaliation. Examples of reasonable accommodations afforded by this law include the following: bathroom breaks, breaks for increased water intake, rest breaks, assistance with job tasks involving physical labor, modified or restructured work schedules, and temporary transfers to less strenuous or hazardous work.

Equal Pay

The Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Act is a New Jersey law that prohibits employers from paying an employee who is a member of a NJLAD-protected class less than they pay an employee who is not a member of that NJLAD-protected class for substantially similar work. In other words, an employer cannot demonstrate prejudice against a person because of that person’s race, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnic background or any other protected category listed above.

Discussion of Wages

NJLAD protects employees who ask current or former workers about their rate of pay and benefits from retaliation for asking about such information. In the past, people were prohibited from discussing wages and could not find out what other similarly situated workers were paid by the employer. This is an important right to protect workers from prejudice due to wages.

Whistleblowing Protections

New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA) provides strong protections from retaliation for “blowing the whistle” or communicating a complaint (internal or otherwise) about any activity, policy, or practice at the workplace where the employee reasonably believes a law, rule, or regulation issued under the law is being violated. In other words, CEPA protects workers who are brave enough to do the right thing by standing up to their employers when they are engaged in illegal workplace actions. In addition to protecting the whistleblowing employee from retaliation, the effect of the CEPA law is to discourage and ultimately stop employers from engaging in unlawful conduct.

Recruiting and Hiring

Job advertising must not violate the anti-discrimination provisions of the NJLAD. Likewise, the NJLAD requires prospective employers to reasonably accommodate qualified applicants who are persons with disabilities.

Salary History Inquiry Restrictions

New Jersey employers are not allowed to inquire about a job applicant’s salary history or benefits during the job hiring process. Likewise, they may not require an applicant to sign a written authorization to confirm an applicant’s salary history.

Social Media and Email Account Protection

New Jersey employers cannot ask job applicants to provide a password or other forms of access to the applicant’s personal social media or email accounts.

Criminal Checks

New Jersey’s “ban-the-box” law prohibits employers with more than 15 employees from advertising in a job posting that applicants with a criminal record will not be considered for the position. Additionally, employers may not ask job applicants about their criminal history during the initial application process, including on an employment application. Employers may refuse to hire a job applicant based on arrest records or conviction records, unless the conviction has been expunged.

Wage and Hour

Workers have rights regarding their wages and hours of work.

Minimum Wage

Employers are required to pay employees a minimum wage for each hour of work performed. Most employers must pay workers a minimum wage of $15.13 per hour; for small employers, a minimum wage of $13.73; and for farm workers a minimum of $12.01 for hours worked in 2024. There are certain exceptions to this law (for example, tipped employees). For more information, see New Jersey Minimum Wage for 2024 Is $15.13 for Most Employees.


Hourly or “nonexempt” employees must be paid time and a half overtime pay for all hours worked in excess of 40 hours in any workweek.

Breastfeeding Breaks

New Jersey requires employers to provide reasonable break time each day and a private location for breastfeeding employees to express breast milk for their infant(s).

Child Labor

New Jersey child labor laws restrict the occupations that minors may work in and the number of hours and times of day in which minors aged sixteen or seventeen may work. Minors must also be provided with a 30-minute meal break after five consecutive hours of work.

Complaints about wage and hour violations are protected by federal and New Jersey laws and regulations, and employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for filing or discussing a complaint. Complaints can also be made anonymously for further protection.

Payment of Wages and Fringe Benefits

Wage Payment

Employers in New Jersey must pay their employees the full amount of wages owed to the employees. Nonexempt or hourly employees must be fully paid on regular paydays, at least twice a month. Exempt or salaried employees must be fully paid at least once monthly on regularly scheduled paydays.

Pay Statements and Deductions

All employers in New Jersey must give their employees a statement of deductions made from each paycheck for each pay period that the deductions are made. New Jersey law lists the specific kind of deductions that can be taken from a worker’s pay. Employers are prohibited from withholding wages for illegal deductions such as breakages, spillage, cash register shortages, gasoline pay shortages, etc.

Health Care Continuation

New Jersey employers must offer health care continuation after the end of the employment relationship in accordance with both Federal and New Jersey laws. Within thirty days, most employers must notify and offer health insurance for up to eighteen months after the end of the worker’s employment. Former employees must be given 30 days to make their first payment for health care continuation coverage.

Time Off and Leaves of Absence

Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI)

All employers who do not have their own private disability insurance policies must provide temporary disability benefits to an employee who sustains a non-work-related sickness or injury that results in the worker’s inability to perform his or her regular job duties. TDI is paid for by a mandatory payroll tax to which both the employer and the employee contribute. Employees may receive up to 26 weeks of TDI benefits. There is no job protection that specifically comes with this law, but under the NJLAD, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee based on their being a person with disabilities.

Family and Medical Leave

Federal and New Jersey laws (Federal Family Medical Leave Act and New Jersey Family Leave Act) require most large or medium sized employers to allow eligible employees to take an unpaid leave of absence in certain cases. The unpaid leave of absence can be up to 12 weeks in a twenty-four month period for the following events: (1) their own serious medical condition or (2) the serious health condition of a parent, spouse, or child. Employees may also take unpaid parental leave for the birth of a new child, or placement of an adopted or foster child.

Paid Family Leave

Almost all New Jersey employees are eligible for up to 12 weeks of paid family leave insurance (FLI) to:

  • Bond with a newborn, newly adopted child, or new foster child;
  • Care for an ill family member; or
  • Deal with domestic or sexual violence.

The benefit is also available to take leave to care for most family relatives and any loved one with a serious health condition.

Paid Sick Leave

All New Jersey employers must provide employees with up to 40 hours of earned sick leave per year so that they can take care of themselves or a loved one. A worker can take earned sick leave to:

  • Care for his or her own health, including getting preventive treatment;
  • Care for family members or loved ones with whom they have a close relationship equivalent to family;
  • Deal with the closing of one’s workplace, child’s school, or childcare facility due to a public health emergency; and
  • Attend to a child’s school conferences, meeting, or other events required by school administrators or teachers.

Disability During Unemployment

New Jersey’s Department of Labor program provides payment to workers who become totally disabled more than 14 days after the last day of work of employment for most employers. Employees receive up to 26 weeks of benefits.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ Compensation is a “no fault” insurance program that provides medical treatment, wage replacement, and permanent disability compensation to employees who suffer job-related injuries or illnesses. New Jersey law provides civil penalties against employers, owners, and officers who have failed to insure their workers with Workers’ Compensation insurance. Additionally, New Jersey law prohibits employers from retaliating against workers who have made Workers’ Compensation claims.

Other Time Off Requirements

Federal and/or New Jersey laws also prohibit employers from retaliating against employees who take off for other important reasons such as military leave, jury duty, emergency responder leave, or domestic violence leave.

New Jersey Unemployment Insurance

Unemployment Insurance (UI) is a New Jersey State program that gives financial support to people who lose their jobs through no fault of their own. If a worker qualifies for UI benefits, they will receive benefits for up to 26 weeks during a one-year period.

You are considered an employee for UI purposes if:

  • Your employer directs or controls how you perform assigned work; or
  • The work that you do for the employer (1) is substantially different from the employer’s usual course of business or (2) is performed outside of their usual place of business; or
  • You work in an independently established trade, occupation, profession, or business that could operate separately and apart from the employer.

Misclassification of the worker as an independent contractor is an illegal practice, and an employee can file a wage claim to get back pay for unpaid minimum wage, overtime, and other payments due under New Jersey Wage and Hour laws, entitlement to unemployment compensation, and other benefits. Workers can be awarded up to five percent of the worker’s gross earnings over the past 12 months as a penalty for the illegal practice of misclassification.

Health and Safety

New Jersey workers also have the right to work in a workplace that is free from serious recognized safety and health hazards. Complaints of health and safety violations are protected, and employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for engaging in communication or filing of complaints. Complaints can also be made anonymously for further protection.

Smoke-Free Workplace

New Jersey’s Smoke-Free Air Act prohibits smoking, including e-cigarettes, in indoor public spaces and workplaces.

Safety Driving Practices

Employers must enforce rules prohibiting the use of cell phones or texting while employees are driving in New Jersey.

Mass Layoff and Plant Shutdown Notifications

Federal and state laws offer protection to workers, their families, and communities by requiring employers to provide notice 60 days in advance of covered plant closings and mass layoffs.

Final Pay

If an employee is terminated, suspended as a result of a labor dispute, or laid off, or if the employee resigns or leaves his or her employment for any reason, the employer must pay the employee all wages due by the regular payday for the pay period in which the termination or separation of employment took place.