Jury duty is a civic responsibility that everyone will likely have to do at one point or another. The next time you get called in, you may just need to go in for one day and then you get sent away. The other possibility is that you actually get placed on a jury. In this case, you may need to be away from work for a couple days or even a few weeks, depending on the exact nature of the trial. As a business owner, it may be difficult for you to lose one of your employees for that length of time, and you should check with your state’s laws to see what should be done if you do not currently have any company policies in place.
Each state slightly differs in how you have to go about compensating employees who serve on juries. This is due to the fact that the Fair Labor Standards Act, a federal law, does not specify whether employers have to pay employees. Therefore, the states had to step up in order to protect employees. While compensation differs, virtually all states in America have laws that forbid employers from punishing workers who end up serving on juries. You are not allowed to penalize employees by docking pay, taking away health benefits or taking away a position.
There are also protections for employees that claim you are not allowed to intimidate or strongly coerce individuals into getting out of jury duty. You cannot pressure your workers out of this responsibility, and if an employee feels like you are making vague threats, then he or she could take the case to your state’s labor department. You have to let people go to jury duty, but whether or not to pay them is a whole other story.
This is where the law gets tricky, so you should look into your state’s ordinances to see what you have to do. Some states require you to give your employees time off for jury duty, but you do not have to pay them. Other states require you to pay your employees while they are serving on a jury. Finally, some states have rules that are in between. For example, Connecticut requires employers to give workers on a jury full pay for the first five days, and anything after that the state will pay jurors $50 a day.
Some states that do not force you to pay employees have laws about how workers can use paid vacation time while they are on jury duty. Some workers may choose to go down this route if they want to receive some sort of compensation during this time. However, many employees will want to avoid doing this if it can be helped just because it can be disheartening to use vacation time to serve on a jury. Regardless of what your state’s laws are, your company may have rules about paying workers who have to be jurors. Check with human resources to see what they have to say.
What Happens When You Break the Law?
If state law dictates you have to compensate employees who serve on a jury and you do not pay your workers, then a worker can report you to the labor department. The punishments vary by state, but they can range from misdemeanor charges to having to pay fines and your employee’s attorney fees. Some states can even throw you in jail. Even though you may not want to lose an employee for a given amount of time, it is ultimately for the best just to follow the law and let your employees serve on juries.
You will probably have to serve on a jury at some point, so you should be able to put yourself in your employee’s shoes. Be reasonable and allow everyone to carry out their civic duties. Click to view more Human Resources
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.