Jury Duty & Employer Obligations
There have been some recent cases dealing with employer treatment of employees when they are called for jury duty. Based on these cases, there are 5 questions businesses should ask to make sure they do right by employees called for jury duty.
- Do employees need to be paid? While federal law provides that an employee cannot be discharged by reason of such employee’s jury service, under federal and most state laws, with some exceptions, employers aren’t required to pay workers for time spent serving on a jury. Nebraska is one of the eight states which require an employer to continue to pay an employee while serving on a jury. In Nebraska, employees called to jury duty cannot lose pay (except that an employer may reduce an employee’s pay by the $35 a day the employee will receive for serving), and cannot be required to use up sick leave or vacation time. Fifteen additional states prohibit an employer from requiring an employee to use up vacation, PTO or other permitted leave while serving on a jury. Because counties and cities may adopt rules requiring workers to be paid for some amount of time while they are serving on a jury, employers need to be aware of the rules in their specific jurisdiction.
- What about exempt employees? Even in those states where an employer is not required by local law to pay an employee while the employee is on jury duty, the employer may still be responsible for paying the entire salary of an exempt employee. If a salaried exempt employees perform any work (e.g., an hour) during the work week, but spends the rest of the week serving on a jury, the employer must pay the employee for the entire workweek.
- Do other rules come into play here? Some states have particularized rules that go beyond simply protecting workers from penalties related to their jury service. For example, in Nevada, an employee who works an overnight shift cannot be scheduled to work during an 8 hour period before they are required to show for jury duty. So, employers need to make sure that they are in compliance with all local laws related to jury duty.
- Should employers pay their employees called for jury duty in any event? Even if you are in a jurisdiction where there is no obligation to pay employees who are away on jury duty, you may still choose to give employees a few days’ pay in recognition of fulfilling a civic duty. Having a policy that will pay for some jury service (3- 5 days is common) can go a long way toward assisting employees for whom it may be a hardship to receive only the nominal jury fee for a few days or a week.
- Can employees whose jury service lasts weeks or months be replaced? While jury duty normally runs a day or two of work, it can be longer where the trial lasts weeks or the employee is called for grand jury service. This can cause problems as the employee’s work goes undone. In most instances, the employer will divvy up the work or hire a temp. While nothing prevents an employer from bringing in an outside helping hand, the employer could face legal trouble if it decides to keep the temp over the returning employee or otherwise takes an adverse action against the worker who left to perform their civic duty. Therefore, employers should address any extended jury-related absences in a similar manner as they treat other forms of leave.
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Wed Nov 6, 8:37pm Share