Time Off for Voting and Jury Duty
While most of us are happy to take time off to perform our civic duties, doing so while maintaining a full-time job can be difficult. Some employers can be reluctant to let employees miss work and may try to pressure you not to take time off for voting and jury duty. It can be a difficult decision to vote or serve on a jury during the workday when you are concerned about unpaid leave or retribution. Fortunately, most states provide for time off to vote and serve jury duty.
Your Right to Time Off for Voting
Almost all states have prohibitions on employers' disciplining or firing you for taking time off of work to go vote. If you have been disciplined or fired for taking time off to vote, contact a lawyer to find out whether this violates your state's laws.
However, many states have requirements before you can take time off to vote. Some states grant you time off only if you can demonstrate that you don't have enough time to get to the polls before or after work. Other states require you to demonstrate to you actually voted. Some states require that you give your employer advanced notice that you will be taking time off to vote. Check your state's laws to see if any of these conditions apply to you.
Many employers have employment handbooks or company policies that set forth how your employer deals with taking time off for voting. Most states don't require that your employer pay you for your time off, but check with your company to see if they do.
Your Right to Time Off for Jury Duty
The same laws that protect your right to take time to vote also protect your right to take time to serve on a jury. Some employers are reluctant to have their employees sit on a jury for an unknown period of time. State laws notwithstanding, employers will often exert pressure on employees to get out of jury duty.
Recognizing the reluctance of employers, most states prohibit employers from firing or disciplining employees who take time off to serve on a jury. States may also prohibit employers from discouraging or intimidating employees from serving on a jury. If your employer is pressuring you, the best thing to do is to point your employer towards the relevant state law on the issue in a non-confrontational way.
Keep in mind that many states have additional requirements and protections in place, so always check your state's laws and talk to your employer before serving on a jury. For instance, some states require that you furnish proof of being called for jury duty to your employer before taking any time off. Other states have protections in place for specific workers, such as night shift workers, who are granted time off from their night shift if they are serving on a jury during the day.
The biggest issue for many workers such time off is typically unpaid. Juries are often paid for their services but usually at a ridiculously low rate. Unfortunately, most states don't require that your employer give you paid time off, but always check your state's laws because some do. As a compromise, several states also allow you to use accrued paid leave while you serve on a jury. However, it may be difficult for some workers to think of using vacation time to serve on a jury.
Denied Time Off for Voting or Jury Duty? Learn Your Rights by Speaking to a Lawyer
The right to vote and serve on a jury are cornerstones of living in a democracy. There are laws in place to ensure that employers don't abridge these fundamental rights. If your employer has denied your ability to participate in an election or serve on a jury, you may need to explore your legal options. Get started today by speaking with a skilled employment attorney near you.
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