Jury Duty

Federal Law Regarding Jury Duty

Federal law prohibits you from firing, threatening to fire, intimidating, or coercing any permanent employee because of his service on a federal jury. The law has been interpreted to impose on you the duty to ensure that employees are aware that they can report for jury duty without fear of reprisal. You may, however, require that employees provide reasonable notice of jury duty.

Similarly, a number of states have retaliation laws. Even in states that recognize employment at will, firing an employee for serving on a jury would likely be held to be against public policy.

States' Laws Regarding Jury Duty

There's no federal law that requires you to pay employees while serving on federal juries. A number of state and local laws, however, do include that requirement, although, a number of states don't require employers to pay their employees during jury duty.

State laws also may impose notice requirements on employees. Again, state laws vary, and you should check the requirements of the states in which your company does business.

Be Careful In Docking Exempt Employees Pay

An executive, professional, or administrative employee who is classified as exempt from the minimum wage and overtime requirements of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act must be paid on a "salary basis." That means that each pay period, the employee must receive a predetermined amount that isn't subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed.

The U.S. Department of Labor's regulations provide that deducting from an employee's pay for workplace absences occasioned by jury duty or attendance as a witness will destroy the "salary basis" on which he is paid and thus will preclude classifying him as exempt.

Courts have held that deductions from an employee's salary for attendance at a judicial proceeding as a party are permissible. The regulations also provide that you can offset any amounts received by an employee as jury fees or witness fees for a particular week against the salary due for that particular week without destroying the exemption.