Jury Duty

Editor's Note: Be sure to comply with state jury duty laws.

Melissa S. BurdorfOverview: 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 the risk of termination, demotion or other unfavorable (adverse) employment action. Employees must be reinstated to their positions upon the conclusion of jury duty.

Generally, employers may ask employees to provide prompt notification of the need for leave and may request documentation of the need, 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 for jury duty or court appearances (e.g., as a witness). The 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 employees.

Trends: On top of jury duty leave and witness leave, some states also provide for crime victim's leave and/or domestic violence leave. Generally, these laws require employers to provide employees with an unpaid leave of absence when the employee is the victim of a crime or domestic violence (or is a representative or family member of the victim), in order for the employee to participate in court proceedings 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.