Jury duty is a civic responsibility, but many people try to get out of serving on a trial because it can be a financial hardship. The government does provide for jury duty pay, but in most states it's represents a small stipend. Depending upon the state you live in and on your employer, your employer may pay your salary while you serve. If your employer doesn't pay for jury duty, you have a variety of options available to you.
Company Policies Vary
Most state laws do not require the employer to pay your normal salary while you are absent serving on a jury. On the federal level, the Fair Labor Standards Act does not require any employer to pay an employee for time not worked, including while serving on a jury. If your employer does make it a policy to pay all or a portion of your regular salary, this is usually considered a benefit to the employee and would be in your employee manual or as a part of your employee compensation package. Most government employers, including state and federal agencies, have a policy to pay the employee for jury duty. Employees of the federal government are paid their regular salary while serving.
Very few states do require an employer to pay for jury duty. As the time of publication, if you live in the District of Columbia, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Colorado, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Nebraska, New York or Tennessee, the employer is required to compensate employees for some -- if not all -- pay during jury duty service. If the employer fails to do so, the employee may sue the employer for damages, according to LegalMatch.com. Depending on your state, the employee may receive a punitive award for up to triple the amount of damages, plus attorney fees. In the state of New York, failure to pay is punishable as criminal contempt.
In Case of Hardship
Few statutory reasons exist for being released from jury duty. Some trials take several months to complete, and a judge may excuse an individual during jury selection if the time away from work will impose an extreme financial hardship. Then again, some states are short on eligible jurors for their pool, and this excuse may not be grounds for dismissal. If your employer does not pay for jury duty and you are the primary breadwinner of your family, you should state this during the jury selection process. Your request to be dismissed must typically be approved by the judge. You may also elect to have your jury duty postponed to a later date in most states.
Jury Duty Pay
For participating in a federal jury, jurors are awarded $40 a day. Each state's court systems determines the reimbursement for jury duty for participating in the state's court system. This can range from $4 per day in Illinois to $50 per day in Colorado and Connecticut. Employers who do compensate an employee for serving on a trial typically require the employee to forfeit the jury duty stipend to the company.
Some states require the employee to provide reasonable notice of jury duty service. In most states, the law protects the juror's job and may prohibit employers from firing or penalizing the employee in any way for serving on a jury. Firing an employee for serving on jury duty may be considered a form of wrongful termination, and potentially subject to legal proceedings. Employees should contact their state labor board to determine their state's laws on jury duty pay.