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I am very sorry to hear about this predicament and the health of your mother. With regard to your specific question, first please understand that New Jersey employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. Since employers provide these benefits voluntarily, the only limitations and restrictions that NJ law will recognize are those which are contractually imposed. In other words, entitlement to accrued vacation is entirely a function of what your contract says about whether--and how much--you will get upon separation of employment.
If your contract requires one week of advance notice for each week of accrued vacation, you must provide notice in compliance with those terms to receive all of your accrued vacation. Likewise, your employer MUST pay your accrued vacation (since this instituted a policy so requiring) if you provide the requisite notice and have the accrued vacation.
Your only argument to quit with less notice and still collect all your vacation would be the argument that your separation of employment is really a "constructive termination
." That is, although you are quitting you are quitting due to such unbearable working conditions voluntarily created by your employer that you essentially have no choice in the matter and so, for all intents and purposes, are actually being terminated.
Constructive termination is difficult to argue, since it requires showing that a reasonable person genuinely desirous of retaining employment would have been compelled to quit under the same circumstances
. If you can show this (or at least plausibly allege it in a letter to your employer), they may decide it's not worth the risk of litigation and pay all your accrued vacation notwithstanding that you did not comply with the contractually imposed notice requirement. This would be your only argument for entitlement to the whole amount.
Otherwise, you are legally entitled to vacation in accordance with the terms imposed by your contract.
Please do not hesitate
to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
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