Jury Service Creates Duties

William Hubbartt

One of the prime tenets of the American jurisprudence system is that criminals and litigants in state and federal courts are entitled to trial by a jury of their peers. This cornerstone of our legal system creates certain obligations for employees and for employers alike.

In Illinois, the process for the administration of jury service is defined in the Jury Act. Typically, jury duty is for one day or one trial, meaning that the juror serves for one day only unless chosen for a trial lasting more than one day.

The lists of jurors are drawn from registered voters, drivers licenses, and holders of certain state identification cards. Jurors must meet certain qualifications including being a resident of the county, age 18 or older, be free of legal exception and able to understand the English language, and be a citizen of the United States.

State and federal law relating to juror selection define procedures for random selection of jurors. Generally, jurors receive a summons for service mailed to their place of residence.

An individual who receives a juror summons is responsible to report to the designated court facility at the date and time as summoned. Jurors receive a per diem compensation and mileage allowance paid by the court system. An individual's failure to report may result in a finding of contempt of court with a fine. Certain hardship exceptions may be permitted, excusig the individual from jury service.

Summoned jurors who are employees are responsible to provide reasonable notice of required jury service to their employer. Reasonable notice is defined as delivering a copy of the juror summons to the employer within 10 days of the date of issuance of the summons.

The employer is responsible to give time off work to the employee for jury service, regardless of the employee's work shift schedule, to consider the absence as a leave of absence, and to reinstate the employee upon completion of jury service with no loss of seniority or insurance or other benefits.

There is no requirement in the Jury Act for the employer to compensate an employee for time taken off for jury duty. The employer must not discharge, threaten to discharge, intimidate or coerce any employee by reason of the employee's jury service.

An employer who violates the anti-retaliation requirement may be ordered by the court to stop such actions, may be charged with contempt of court, and may be liable for damages for any loss of wages or other benefits suffered by the employee.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70 percent of employees have access to a paid jury leave benefit. Human resources specialsits recommend that employers define a jury duty leave policy to guide the administration of employee absences for jury duty.

William S. Hubbartt is a human resources and privacy consultant and author of 8 books on management and privacy issues.
Copyright 2007. All Rights Reserved.

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