Overview: Juries are critical to the functioning of the US legal system. In order to ensure jury participation, federal and state laws require that employers allow eligible employees to participate in jury service without a risk of termination, demotion, or other unfavorable (adverse) employment action. Employers must consider employees attending jury duty to be on a furlough or leave of absence - therefore, such employees must be reinstated to their positions upon the conclusion of jury duty.
Generally, employers can ask employees to provide prompt notification of the need for leave and can request documentation, such as a jury summons or a letter from the court clerk. The amount of time an employee spends on jury duty is not in the employer's control - rather, it varies based on the court proceeding. Employers should have a written policy that sets the parameters of an employee's absence to attend to civil responsibilities, such as jury duty, court appearances (e.g., witness) and victim or domestic violence leave. Such policy should be clearly communicated to all employees. Multistate employers may want to have a policy that follows the state law with the greatest benefit to the employee.
Trends: Many states have jury duty leave and witness duty leave. Some states also provide for crime victim's leave and/or domestic violence leave. Generally, these laws require employers provide employees with an unpaid leave of absence when the employee is a victim of a crime (or is a representative or sometimes a family member of the victim), in order for the employee to participate in the court proceeding related to the crime.
Author: Melissa S. Burdorf, JD, Legal Editor
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HR guidance on legal obligations regarding employees participating in jury duty.