Employees called to serve on jury duty is an issue that many employers encounter at one time or another. With The National Center for State Courts “Estimating that in a given year, 32 million people get summoned for service,” employers never know when it could disrupt operations. Here’s what you need to know about jury duty and what your responsibilities are as an employer.
Federal Jury Duty Laws
On the federal level, there are laws in place to protect the rights and jobs of employees who are summoned to jury duty. According to Federal Statute 28 U.S.C. Section 1875, employers are not allowed to terminate, threaten to terminate, intimidate or coerce any permanent employee because of being called to serve. However, you are entitled to demand that your employees provide “reasonable” notice that they will be out for jury duty.
To put it simply, you cannot deprive full-time (30 hours a week or more) workers from attending jury duty, fire or threaten to fire them for serving. It’s unlawful and could get you in trouble. In terms of compensating employees while they’re serving on a jury, there is no federal law that requires employers to pay.
State Jury Duty Laws
However, it’s important to note that certain states do require employers to compensate their employees. For instance, Connecticut requires employers to pay full-time employees their regular wages for the first five days or part days of jury duty service. To determine what the specific laws are in your state, you’ll need to consult this guide, which breaks down jury duty leave laws by state. It allows you to quickly see what laws your state has in place concerning pay requirements.
Penalties for Non-Compliance
Any employers who are found to be in violation can experience some pretty unsavory consequences. Again, this will vary from state to state, but some examples of penalties include the following:
- Being held liable for damages or any loss of wages
- Having to provide appropriate relief to an employee
- Being ordered to reinstate an employee
- Receiving a fine
- Being briefly imprisoned
The Bottom Line
When running a business, there’s always the possibility of employees being called to serve on jury duty. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to be prepared and understand the legalities surrounding this process and ensure that you remain compliant at all times.
By researching the specific laws of your state, you’ll know whether or not you’re required to compensate employees during their time serving jury duty. A proactive approach in the event that you face this type of situation ensures you can avoid any harmful penalties that could disturb your business even more.