Employees who are called to serve on juries in federal courts are protected from discharge because of their service.
Advice: Make sure your employee handbook covers federal jury service and that supervisors don’t punish employees who serve on federal juries.
Fortunately, federal jury trials are relatively rare compared to state and local trials.
Recent case: Andrew Arnold was fired from his job at Beth Abraham Health Services for alleged poor work performance.
However, because he was fired in the middle of federal jury service, he suspected the real reason was that he would miss a substantial amount of work because of jury duty. Arnold had been ushered to the HR office and terminated just after he told his boss he had been selected to serve on a grand jury and would likely be out for a long time.
The court said his lawsuit could go forward. (Arnold v. Beth Abraham Health Services, No. 09-Civ-7932, SD NY, 2010)
Final notes: Exactly how much protection does an employee get while serving federal jury duty? He or she can’t be fired, threatened with discharge, intimidated or coerced into not serving on the jury.
The law provides for reinstatement if the employee can show his employer violated the law. That reinstatement must include all benefits lost, including insurance coverage and seniority.
Plus, employees who want to sue are entitled to an attorney paid for by the employer. Employers can be fined $5,000 for each violation. In some cases, they may be ordered to perform community service.