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Jury Duty and an Employee's Right to Pay

Many prospective jurors cite a loss of pay as a legitimate reason for not serving on a jury. But serving on a jury is a civic duty crucial to our country's democratic process. Without jurors, our legal system would grind to a halt. This push and pull requires employers and employees to sacrifice when a worker gets called for jury duty.

Does the law protect employees who are on jury duty leave?

To prevent employers from intimidating workers from serving on juries, many states have jury duty laws that ban employers from engaging in threatening or retaliatory tactics. In Maine, for example, an employer may not intimidate an employee by threatening to take away health insurance coverage. In North Dakota, an employer cannot lay off, penalize, or coerce an employee because of jury duty service.

Laws vary by state, but some impose obligations on employees before protection will apply. In Tennessee, workers must prove they have jury duty by showing the employer the summons the day after they get it. In other states, the employee only needs to give "reasonable notice" of a jury duty summons.

Does an employer have to pay an employee for jury duty service?

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), a federal law, does not force employers to pay employees for jury duty service. So, unless mandated by state law or company policy, an employer does not have to pay an employee for serving on a jury.

While most states do not mandate paying employees for jury duty, few do. In Connecticut, for instance, full-time workers get regular pay for the first five days of jury duty. After the fifth day, the person can get up to $50 per day of jury service from the state. Separate from employers, courts often pay jurors a modest amount each day of service.

What penalties can an employer face for violation of a jury duty statute?

An employer that violates a jury duty statute may face penalties. Penalties vary from state to state. But in many circumstances, regardless of the penalty stated by law, a discharged employee can file a lawsuit to recover back pay. In many states, an employer that penalizes or fires an employer can get charged with a misdemeanor. In Colorado, such a violation may be a Class 2 misdemeanor. In Massachusetts, a violation is punishable with a fine of up to $5,000, up to 90 days imprisonment, or both. In other states, such as California, the employee may be entitled to reinstatement, back pay, lost wages, and benefits.

Do You Have a Jury Duty Pay Issue? Get Legal Help Today

Are you called to serve on a jury and unsure if your employer is following the law? Contact your human resources department and follow up on company policy. If you aren't getting the answers you need, contacting an experienced employment law attorney near you may be in your best interests.

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