Welcome to THEJNSREPORT’S: Corporate Tyranny vs The Working Class
Written by T.D Moody
Recently, I heard about a situation occurring with someone I know that left a very unsavory taste in my mouth and fire in my belly . We all know that jury duty summons’ are a pain in the ass because most of the working class can’t afford to lose a day’s pay for $40 pre tax.
Well listen to this, recently someone I know (who has been with her job for over 18 years) received a jury duty summons and immediately notified Human Resources at work of the summons and submitted a copy of it to the HR department inquiring about compensation during jury service.
Human Resources then stated to this person that as an “exempt” employee as long as one hour of work per week was completed the person’s full weekly salary would be paid for the duration of the jury service period.
Low and behold this employee is selected from among the jury pool to serve on a jury case which is to last four to five months. After several weeks of jury service and receiving salary, the supervisor of this employee came to present three options to choose from with regards to her continuing to receive her weekly salary.
Astonishment, anger and dumbfounded were some of the adjectives used to describe what she felt upon reading the three options her supervisor was presenting on behalf of the company’s President/CEO. Bare in mind that this person would be at trial 4 days a week and worked Friday’s and holidays while still serving jury duty.
Here are the three options she was given to choose from:
Option 1 : Work every Saturday and Sunday for the duration of jury duty service.
Option 2: Take an unpaid leave of absence for the remainder of the jury duty service period.
Option 3: Work on Fridays only and only be paid for Fridays.
I immediately became incensed upon fully grasping what she had just revealed to me. Both her and my first question was, is this legal? Well friends this is where doing homework and checking policies and the law with regards to jury duty becomes invaluable. According to http://www5.cbia.com
Waiver of Jury Service Compensation
Employers may submit a written request to the court in which the juror served to waive the requirement to pay an employee for jury service if payment would result in extreme financial hardship to the employer. Small employers, in particular, have successfully taken advantage of this provision.
The request must be made within fifteen days of receiving the waiver application, which is provided to the juror upon completion of service. If the employer is excused from its obligation to pay an employee, the court will reimburse the juror’s regular wages for up to $50 per day. If a waiver application is denied, the employer may apply for a hearing within 20 days from the court finding.
Employers’ Failure to Pay Wages
Under state law, employers who have not obtained a waiver and who fail to pay an employee serving on a jury may be liable for treble damages and attorneys’ fees. If a juror sues the employer under these circumstances, extreme financial hardship is not permitted as a defense.
Employers’ Obligations – Federal Courts
Federal law does not require employers to pay their non-exempt employees’ wages for jury duty. Employers are, however, required to (1) consider employees on a leave of absence during jury service; (2) continue their insurance and other benefits according to established leave of absence policies; and (3) reinstate employees to their positions without loss of seniority. Federal jurors are paid $40 per day and, in most courts, reimbursed for reasonable transportation and parking expenses.
Employers’ Personnel Policies
Although not required to by law, many employers also pay the difference between jury duty pay and the employee’s regular wages. If your company has an employee handbook, it’s a good idea to include your jury duty policy in it to ensure that the policy is applied consistently.
Prohibited Actions by Employers
Both state and federal law prohibit employers from discharging, threatening or coercing employees who are summoned for jury duty or who are subpoenaed as witnesses in court proceedings.
Employers may be fined up to $500 or imprisoned up to thirty days or both under state law and fined up to $1,000 per violation under federal law. In addition, employees who are discharged in violation of this law may seek reinstatement, lost wages and reasonable attorneys’ fees from the employer.
I then checked http://www.nyjuror.gov/pdfs/hb_EE.pdf and found a guide for the State of NY on jury duty to further consolidate my understanding of what is legal and illegal with regards to employers responsibilities per jury duty and their employees.
The following is what I found.
Must employers allow employees to serve? Yes. An employer must allow employees time off from work to
serve as jurors. An employer who discharges or penalizes an employee for serving as a juror may be prosecuted by the Office
of the Attorney General and subjected to criminal penalties.
May an employer change an employee’s regularly scheduled hours of work when the employee is scheduled to serve as a
Schedule changes that are designed to accommodate the employee’s obligation to serve are permitted. Schedule changes
that penalize an employee may result in prosecution by the Office of the Attorney General and criminal penalties.
May an employer require an employee to take vacation or other paid leave while serving?
No. It is an illegal penalty to force an employee to charge jury duty absence against vacation, personal or sick time. However,
an employee may choose paid leave over losing wages.
An employer who penalizes an employee for service as a juror by forcing the juror to use paid leave may be prosecuted by the
Office of the Attorney General and subjected to criminal
May an employer require an employee who serves as a juror to make up time?
No. An employer who forces an employee to work on days when the employee is not normally scheduled to work in order to
make up for time lost as a result of jury service may be prosecuted by the Office of the Attorney General and subjected
to criminal penalties.
After reading the above she drafted a response letter to her supervisor and employer requesting that the three options given to her be put into writing on company official letterhead so that she could submit it to the judge. She’s still waiting for a response. LOL