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Jury duty: What’s your duty?

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Problem: During a busy period, your key operator, Heather, is called for jury duty. You tell her that the company may be able to get her excused from it. But Heather refuses, saying that she con­­siders it her civic duty.

What would you do?

THE ANSWER: The courts will usually excuse an employee from jury duty if the employer can demonstrate extreme hardship. Merely being inconvenienced is not enough justification for most courts, however. If the employee refuses to apply for an exemption, there isn’t really much a company can do about it, unless the absence could cause the company irreparable harm—and that’s a tall order to fill.

On the other hand, a company can get into legal hot water if it tries to dis­­charge, or discriminate or retaliate against, employees because of jury duty. Most states have laws protecting workers who are called to serve on juries.

Advice: Start looking for a fill-in for Heather until she returns from jury duty.

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