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An Employer’s Duty Re: Jury Duty

Serving on a jury is one of the most important civic duties that a citizen can fulfill. For employers, however, having employees miss days or weeks at a time to sit on a jury can a mean a lag in productivity. If an essential employee is summoned for service it may be tempting for the employer to persuade him or her to find a way out of participating. As an attorney, I have often heard jurors attempt to skirt their duty by saying, “You Honor, I cannot miss work.”

That statement is legally incorrect. Under Kentucky law, employers are not allowed to deprive any employee of his employment, threaten or coerce him with respect thereto because he serves as a juror or attends court for prospective jury service. If an employer discharges an employee for such, the employee may bring a civil action for recovery of lost wages and an order requiring their reinstatement with full seniority and benefits.

It should be noted that employers do not have to compensate employees who miss work in relation to responding to a summons, attending court for prospective duty or actually serving. Jurors are compensated at $12.50 per day by the state. What jurors really mean when they say, “I cannot miss work,” is “I cannot afford to miss work.” Nevertheless, employers are permitted to compensate employees while they respond to this duty and doing so may make their employees more willing to participate in the judicial process.

B. Johnson

Brandon K. Johnson is an Associate in the Louisville, KY office of McBrayer, McGinnis, Leslie & Kirkland, PLLC. Mr. Johnson practices primarily in the areas of insurance defense, employment law, and general litigation. He can be reached at bjohnson@mmlk.com or at (502) 327-5400, ext. 2313.

This article is intended as a summary of state and federal law and does not constitute legal advice.

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