Employee Rights No Fees Unless We Win
Leaves for Jury Duty
Under California law an employee may not be terminated or otherwise discriminated against "for taking time off to serve as required by law on an inquest jury or trial jury, if the employee, prior to taking the time off, gives reasonable notice to the employer that the employee is required to serve." California Labor Code section 230(a). The statute does not define “reasonable notice.” Generally, “reasonable notice” is notice to another party that is reasonable given the circumstances.
Employers Generally Are Not Required To Pay Employees For Time Taken Off Work For Jury Duty
California state law does not require employers to pay employees for time lost from work due to jury service. People v. Kwee (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 1, 4. However, an employee may use vacation, personal leave, or compensatory time off that is otherwise available to the employee for time taken off work for jury service. California Labor Code section 230(i). Some employers, aware that unpaid time off places a financial burden on employees, do compensate their employees for time spent in jury service. Some union agreements or contacts provide this benefit. See University of California, Personnel Policies for Staff Members 2.210.The Importance of Jury Duty
Jury duty is a fundamental civic duty and an important opportunity for American citizens to serve their country. Because of this, it is essential that employers not impede on one's right to participate. The right to serve on a jury is mentioned in the United States Constitution itself via the Seventh Amendment: "In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law." The fact that the existence of juries was immortalized in the Bill of Rights shows the importance of juries to the founding fathers. Jury duty is so important, the law even mandates participation, hardship aside. California Code of Civil Procedure section 209.
Without the right to serve on juries, society would be unable to ensure that justice could be carried out fairly. Juries are composed of ordinary citizens, and ordinary citizens are needed in order to try the accused or the defendant as peers. Without juries, only judges would have a say in the outcomes of trials, and this is unacceptable because judges are government officials. If there is no method by which ordinary citizens can weigh the facts and come to conclusions of their own, then the government would be both orchestrating and deciding every case on its own.
Thus, when employers do impede an employee's ability to serve on a jury, they are interfering with the employee's right to be an American. Further, they are literally disrupting America's judicial system. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that employees be given their due opportunity to serve on a jury, should they be selected for participation. If you have been denied leave to serve on a jury, your employer has placed the value of your work over the value of your freedom and citizenship.What To Do If Your Employer Terminates Your Employment Or Otherwise Retaliates Against You For Taking A Leave For Jury Duty
An employee may file a discrimination complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (pursuant to California Labor Code section 98.7) against an employer that discriminates against the employee for taking or attempting to take jury duty. California Labor Code section 230(h)(1). Remedies available for such discrimination include rehiring and reimbursement of lost wages. California Labor Code section 230(g)(1). Any employer who refuses to rehire or promote an employee or former employee who has been determined to be eligible for rehiring or promotion by a legally authorized grievance procedure or hearing is guilty of a misdemeanor. California Labor Code section 230(g)(3). The court in which an employee is serving as a juror has no authority to make order an affecting the employee’s employer. Violations of California Labor Code section 230 may only be addressed in a separate proceeding. People v. Kwee (1995) 39 Cal.App.4th 1, 5-6.Cox v. Electronic Data Systems Corporation
Cox was employed by Electronic Data Systems Corporation (EDS). In May 2006, Cox received a jury summons from the San Francisco Superior Court notifying him to appear for jury duty on the week of June 19, 2006. EDS had a policy on jury service that required Cox to notify his leader (the policy did not clearly define the meaning of the term “leader”) as soon as possible after receiving a notice to report to jury duty. On June 14, Cox sent an email to all of his leaders at EDS that he might have to appear for jury duty on the week of June 19.
While Cox learned that he did not have jury duty on June 19, on the evening of June 19, he learned that he would have jury duty on June 20. On the morning June 20, Cox notified his leaders and other employees at EDS that he would have jury duty that day. Cox stated under oath that he notified EDS that jury duty that day did not begin until 1:00 p.m. and that he would work at home in the morning. EDS asserted that Cox only provided notification that he would be out of the office all day for jury service. Cox later notified some of his leaders that he also had jury duty on June 21.
Cox ended up attending jury duty on June 20 and June 21. He then returned to work on June 22. On June 22, Cox was absent from a 9:00 a.m. meeting because he was in another employee’s office discussing a project. On June 23, Cox was absent from a 9:00 a.m. meeting because he overslept.
On July 11, EDS terminated Cox’s employment. The terminating supervisor cited job performance concerns that occurred on the week that Cox attended jury service as the reason for the termination. Cox filed a complaint with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement regarding the termination of his employment. Cox eventually filed a lawsuit against EDS. His claims included Discharge for performing jury duty as required by law under California Labor Code section 230(a).
EDS then moved for summary judgment (which asks the court to determine that the entire action has no merit and to dismiss the action without the necessity of a trial). The Court determined that a reasonable jury could conceivably find that Cox did provide reasonable notice of his pending jury service or a reasonable jury could conceivably find that Cox did not provide reasonable notice of his pending jury service. The Court also determined that a reasonable jury could conceivably find that a substantial motivating factor for Cox’s termination was his absence for jury duty or a reasonable jury could conceivably find that Cox was fired for performance issues and thus Cox’s absence for jury duty was not a substantial motivating factor for Cox’s termination. Thus, a jury, and not the court, would have to decide these issues and the Court denied EDS’s motion for summary judgment as to Cox’s claim for Discharge for performing jury duty as required by law under California Labor Code section 230(a).
Cox v. Electronic Data Systems Corporation (N.D. Cal. 2009, Case No. 3:2008cv03927)Contact Us
If you have recently received a summons to participate in a jury but have not been granted a jury duty leave, or if you have experienced negative treatment or termination from having taken a jury duty leave at your workplace, or if you believe your employer or former employer has otherwise violated your rights, call the experienced employment law attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC or Contact Us via our online form.