Q. We are a small business and cannot afford to have employees out for extended leaves. One of our employees will be on jury duty for a trial that we’re told could continue for at least a month. Do we have to keep her job open to her when the trial is over?
A. Under Minnesota law, employers are prohibited from taking adverse action against an employee who is performing jury service. An employee who is terminated in violation of this statute may bring a civil action to recover up to six weeks of lost wages and attorney fees and to obtain an order requiring reinstatement to his or her position.
There are potential criminal penalties for violations of this law as well. Violators can be held in criminal contempt, jailed for up to six months and made to pay a fine of up to $700 or both.
In addition, there are employment protections in place for Minnesota employees who are subpoenaed to testify in court or whose presence is requested by a district attorney. If an employee tells you she is scheduled to testify, make sure you check with counsel before discharging or otherwise punishing her for missing work.