Can we really not fire an employee who has been called to jury duty? — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Can we really not fire an employee who has been called to jury duty?

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in Firing,Human Resources

Q. We are a very small company and can’t afford to have an employee on extended leave. Can we legally terminate an employee who is called to jury duty and assigned to a lengthy trial?

A. One of the very few exceptions to the general principle that at-will employees can be terminated for any reason is that employees cannot be discharged in violation of a public policy. Courts have generally narrowly applied this exception, but it has been held to apply to a situation in which an employee is terminated for serving on a jury.

Although you cannot terminate an employee because of the employee’s jury service, it may be permissible to terminate an employee who will be absent for a long period of time if you would take the same action regardless of the reason the employee is out (putting aside the requirements regarding providing leave in a disability context).

You should tread carefully, however, and consult with your attorney before taking action.

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