What should an employer do if they have an employee that is consistently away from work for jury duty? What if the employee is chosen for a trial that is expected to last several weeks? Can an employer discharge this employee because they are not available to perform their job? This is one of those rare circumstances where the answer is simple – an employer cannot fire an employee for being away from work due to serving on a jury. In fact, an employer who fires (or threatens to fire) an employee for missing work for jury duty is subject to being sued for compensatory and punitive damages.
In Florida, the employee is required to provide you with the “Employer’s Copy” of the summons. This document will provide you with the date your employee has been selected to serve as a juror. It will also list the laws outlining an employer’s obligations and responsibilities. Your employee should deliver the Employer’s Copy of the jury duty summons to you at least five days before the date the employee is required to serve.
An employer should also have a policy that sets forth whether or not an employee will be paid while serving on jury duty. A Florida employer can opt to either pay an employee his or her normal wages while they are away serving on a jury, or to not pay anything. Additionally, if you decide to pay normal wages for employees who are serving jury duty, you have the ability to deduct the amount your employee is paid for juror compensation from their wages.
If you are considering firing an employee for legitimate reasons that are separate from the employee serving on jury duty, you should consider holding off until the employee’s jury service has concluded. Otherwise, the employee may have grounds for bringing a lawsuit against you and it will be difficult for you to prove jury duty was unrelated to the firing.
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