The right to be tried by a jury of our peers has long been hailed as one of the fundamental pillars of free society. As a result, states often have laws protecting employees from employer retaliation for missing work to serve as a juror. Generally, employers are forbidden from terminating an employee or subjecting them to workplace discipline for serving jury duty. However, only a few states go so far as to require employers to pay employees for the time they spend on jury duty. Some of the states with jury wage provisions include:
- Alabama: Full-time employees must be paid their usual compensation less the fee or compensation received for serving as a juror.
- Colorado: All employees (including temporary or part-time workers) are entitled to regular wages up to $50 per day for the first 3 days of jury duty.
- Connecticut: Full-time employees must be paid their regular wages for the first five days of jury duty. After the first 5 days of jury duty the state will pay employees $50 per day.
- District of Columbia: Full-time employees must be paid regular wages for the first 5 days of jury duty.
- Georgia: All employees (including temporary or part-time workers) must be paid wages while on jury duty minus any funds the employee receives for jury service.
- Louisiana: Regular employees are entitled to 1 day of compensation for jury service and may not lose any sick, vacation, or personal leave days.
- Massachusetts: All employees (including temporary or part-time workers) must be paid regular wages for the first 3 days of jury duty. If paid leave is an “extreme financial hardship” for the employer, the state will pay. After the first 3 days, the state will pay jurors $50 per day.
- Nebraska: All employees must be paid normal wages while on jury service minus any compensation (other than expenses) from the court.
- New York: An employer of ten or fewer employees may withhold the full wages of an employee absent from work on account of jury service. An employer of ten or more employees must pay to an employee serving on jury duty the first $40.00 of that employee's daily wage for the first three days of jury service.
- Tennessee: All regular employees are entitled to regular wages minus any compensation received for jury service.
Even if your state does not require your employer to pay you for time spent serving jury duty, many jurisdictions provide some compensation for jurors ranging from $10-$50 per day.
What if the Employer Fails to Pay Wages as Required by State Law?
Punishment for violating laws requiring employee compensation while serving on a jury vary from state to state. Some of the possible consequences include:
- Criminal Contempt;
- Criminal Fines; and/or
- Civil Liability (employees can sue the employer for withheld wages).
What if the Employer Really Cannot Afford to Pay an Employee who is Serving Jury Duty?
Of the states that require employers to pay employees while they serve on jury duty, most will excuse the employer from this duty upon a finding that it would cause substantial financial hardship.
Can an Employer Fire an Employee for Serving on Jury Duty?
No. It is a violation of public policy to fire an employee or threaten to fire an employee for serving on jury duty, even if the employee is an at-will employee. Discharging an employee for serving on jury duty is a form of wrongful termination.
Should You Hire a Lawyer Experienced in Employment Law?
If you believe that you are entitled to compensation from your employer for time served on jury duty, or if you believe you have been wrongfully terminated for serving on jury duty, you should consult a skilled employment attorney immediately. An attorney can assist you in navigating the complexities of the court system, gather physical evidence, interview witnesses, and advocate for your interests in court.