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Just like everybody else, celebrities can get called for jury duty. Even NBA superstar Kobe Bryant. And like the Lakers did today, employers must excuse employees from work while they perform their civic duty.
Bryant reported yesterday for jury duty in Santa Ana, California. As the OC Register reported, though Bryant has previously sought to be excused on occasions when the Lakers were on the road or in the playoffs, the Laker star saw it as important to report and serve when called on one of the team's off days. The Register quoted him as saying that "[e]veryone has to do their duty," and that you "have to take it seriously."
Just like the Lakers had to make due without Bryant at practice today, employers are obligated to allow employees time off work when they are called to do their civic duty.
If it's a jury for a federal trial, federal law prohibits an employer from disciplining or firing an employee for time missed while reporting or serving on a jury. For trials in state court, the vast majority of states prohibit disciplining or firing an employee for jury service, and some even prohibit an employer from encouraging the employee to try to get out of jury duty.
Do employers have to pay for time spent in jury service? In most states, there is no legal requirement to pay, leaving it up to the employer's policy. A few states, however, require employers to pay for some of the time served, or for the employee to accrue paid leave for the time spent on jury duty. For state specific rules, contact your state's labor department.
In the end, TMZ reported that Bryant was excused from being on the jury. However, he was one of the last to be excused, and cited his being a good listener as one reason he would be a good juror. As for his day job, "Go Lakers," said the judge.
Employment Law FAQ (provided by the Law Offices of Galen Gentry)
Right to Jury Trial (FindLaw)
Preparing for a Jury Trial (FindLaw)
Cases Challenged Over 'Tweeting' Jurors (ABC News)
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